The Smartest Companies Are Market Intelligent
We do a lot of market research for clients and it's done mostly at the start of a new business, new product line or new service. Surprisingly, very few clients ask us to complete market research outside of a new initiative or market entrance. When I probe into the rationale, clients often tell me one of two things: a.) We already did the market research when the product launched, or b.) We work in the market every day and understand it well.
While both conditions may be true, markets are dynamic and complex beasts with opportunities that often reveal themselves only through subtle changes of integrate storylines. Often focused and diligent discovery is needed to ensure the most beneficial insights are revealed. It’s no coincidence that longstanding market leaders are the ones focusing on continued market research. These companies know that an organization that stops learning is obsolete, whether it’s been around for twenty months or twenty years.
A company that stops learning is obsolete, whether it’s been around for twenty months or twenty years.
Additionally, smaller companies frequently believe that market research is (1) only for large companies or (2) too expensive for them. This is far from the truth. I’d argue that market research is MORE important for smaller organizations to ensure they can quickly uncover market shifts and identify niche needs. Many times, speed is a smaller company’s biggest advantage. Secondly, market research cost is mostly driven by scope. If you complete frequent market research updates and keep the scope focused on key areas, then cost can be readily controlled. Market research projects that are done every 6 years are asking the research team to essentially start anew from the beginning.
In a new business, owners are anxious to understand how they stack up in the marketplace and where the most profitable market opportunity exists. New business market research can answer the following questions:
· What is the potential size of the target market?
· Is the target market growing or shrinking?
· What is the competitive landscape? Is it growing or shrinking?
· What are competitors doing?
· Are underserved niche segments present?
· Is this the right market/timing for us?
· How should we price?
In an established business, owners are anxious to understand how the market has changed and where any new/emerging opportunity exists. Existing business market research can answer the following questions:
· What additional products or services might be offered?
· How are market needs changing?
· How is technology changing?
· Is the product optimally priced?
· Does the product/service portfolio need to change?
· How is the competitive landscape changing?
· What is the reputation of the business in the marketplace?
· Is the business meeting the demands of its customers?
While many businesses feel that market research is too expensive, the truth is that companies can’t afford to NOT complete market research. Thankfully, there are many research options that incur no cost or very little cost such as:
· Talking to existing customers to determine their needs and wants
· Reviewing monthly sales and activity trends
· Creating customer satisfaction surveys
· Researching the competition
· Reviewing pricing relative to the competition and product/service value
· Evaluating customer feedback on social media
Market intelligence helps business leaders make more informed decisions through better understanding of customers and market trends.
There is an old saying in business, “If you market to everyone, you talk to no one.” The old ‘shotgun’ messaging strategy is no longer effective. Targeted, bespoke marketing campaigns bring new customers and better customer retention. Good marketing decisions are the result of good market and customer understanding.
Regardless of its type or size, a business must know and understand its customers and markets. This can only be effectively accomplished through continuous market research. Market research may not be a priority for your business, but there’s a good chance it's a critical task for your competitors.