Marketing is as much a function of information and data analysis as it is about intuition and creativity. While it is not necessary to conduct market research to run a successful business, it is definitely a useful tool to ensure business success and avoid unforeseen pitfalls.
Traditionally market research has been useful in the following areas:-
1. Starting a New Business – While it is great to be guided by your passion when starting a new business, market research can be the first step to ensure that you actually are investing in a profitable venture. Understanding of market size, competitors’ and prospective customers, ensures that one has a good idea of the profitability of the venture and business challenges even before the start.
2. Launch of a New Product – A new product launch is always a risk. Product and consumer research ensures, the appeal of the product can be well tested, modifications be made and the communication strategy planned in accordance with the findings.
3. Market Expansion for an Existing Product/Service – Entering a new market or expanding the current market can be a challenge. An understanding of the specific demographics and insights on market needs and preferences can provide a safety net.
4. Addressing a Specific Problem – Whether it be slow growth, new competition, declining customer interest, or brand awareness, market research is the best bet to have a definitive answer to specific business challenges.
Market research consultants’ have been the experts’ in gathering primary and secondary data to unearth patterns conduct analysis and provide insight.
Market Research – Moving Towards the Future
The rise of technology and the ubiquitous nature of data are changing our lives in significant ways by enriching our understanding about people, brands and the markets. A lot of information that was previously not accessible is now available to us across geographies and time space. Many sophisticated data analysis platforms make it possible to collect data from social media, web contents and various other industry specific data sources and independent surveys to find larger trends and patterns.
Market Research Consultant – Evolving Roles
Needless to say the role of the market research consultant in this technology-savvy world is also evolving. They can now transition from being research consultants, to data scientists, customer advocates and innovators. As there is easy access to large sources of information, getting the right sample size is no longer the biggest concern. It is the results that can be drawn from the various sources of data that becomes more important. The role of a consultant also becomes more multi-faceted in such a context.
1. As Data Scientists – Going Beyond the Obvious
The ability to mine insights not just from historical data and current data from a smaller sample size, but also to understand socio-cultural trend shifts and a large amount of real time data will transform the role of market research consultants, as they will be able to understand better the underlying motivations and causes for behavior patterns, a better understanding of the potential impact of market realities and extrapolate from not just what is the larger pattern but also the outliers – ones with lesser obvious explanations.
2. As Customer Advocates – Putting the Customer First
Ability to have access to a large amount of customer data across product categories and markets, covering product perception, use, service and opinions will help the researcher to have even more powerful understanding of what works best for the customers. This will potentially be helpful for businesses to understand customer needs better and improve customer centricity.
3. As Innovators – From What is to What Can be
Till now, the role of the MR consultant has been limited to getting more insight for solving marketing challenges. However, they now have the opportunity to innovate as it becomes crucial to understand the past, present and niche developments to predict the future.They will be able to combine different data sets to analyze and predict behavior patterns and market shifts.
It is an interesting time for market researchers. As their specific skills at understanding, classifying and drawing inferences are needed now more than ever. Business owners can leverage these skill sets to take a more confident approach to their business backed by strong insights that have lesser probability of failing.