In order for a company's products and services to be not just well-accepted but welcomed by clients and customers, a thorough understanding of the company’s markets, competitors and customers needs to be reached. Evaluating the feasibility of a new product or service is central to an organization's operations, which is why almost every successful business in present times conducts market research. Market research helps to identify problems, spot growth opportunities, formulate marketing strategies, determine consumer needs, forecast sales, and improve sales activities, and introduce new products and services. Without proper market research to drive your marketing strategies, especially regarding new products or services, you lack direction, which is a recipe for disaster. Information on market research and market research techniques is widely available nowadays, which has made the process easier to understand and execute. Then why do some organizations still fail to embrace market research? The larger problem with organizations these days is that they fall prey to the numerous myths that are unfortunately associated with market research. In this article, let us examine these common myths regarding market research, and then untangle them to help you conduct better market research.
Why do market research myths exist at all?
Well, the short answer is that in today's fast-paced world, we are exposed to too much information too fast. As a result, we suffer from something known as information overload, which causes confusion, and the inability to distinguish between information and misinformation. A larger problem arising from information overload is that different stakeholders in an organization have different versions of truth due to their exposure to divergent information, which makes it difficult to move strategically in one direction as an organization. Add to the fact that a number of organizations never take the time to actually study market research in detail, which results in the formation and propagation of market research myths. Consequently, they either write-off market research completely without even conducting it, or conduct it in a flawed manner which obviously doesn't bring accurate results. Millions of dollars are spent on an incomplete or imperfect idea, plus the extra time spent fixing what’s broken later on. Thus, to truly dispel market research myths, you need to conduct proper research on market research itself! Meanwhile, this article will raise your awareness about these common myths, so that you don't succumb to these many myths, and successfully predict which of your new ideas will thrive in the marketplace.
6 common market research myths that you need to avoid
Market research isn't necessary
Most successful organizations in the world would disagree with you here. Market research is an integral step in a successful business development effort, whether you are part of a startup, launching a new product or rebranding your business. Even if you've been in the business long, and think that you know your customers pretty well, you never know when a new factor might emerge that changes customer behavior, or how the speed of societal change is continually altering the dynamics of the provider/customer relationship. Not conducting timely market research means that you will fail to identify new, emerging trends in the market, which will lead to lost opportunities that your competitors are not going to miss, which in turn will lead to a loss of market position. In a market as competitive and dynamic as today's, you need to keep a close watch on your target audience.
We can do our own market research
Of course you can. But unless you're a marketing professional with relevant experience in market research, have the necessary tools for it, have a dedicated internal research team with expertise in market research or have hired a research vendor to do it for you, it's unlikely that your venture is going to be fruitful. Don't confuse market research with online research. Market research is a systematic discipline that requires careful planning, time, expertise, and an ability to marry a variety of data sets or sources of information to clearly articulate business questions and then answer them. Unless you've studied it, or done it before successfully, with proven results, you're not eligible to conduct your own research, especially when it's the future of your organization at stake. If you still do it, be ready for inaccuracies and impaired decisions.
Market research takes too long
Not necessarily. It depends on multiple factors such as your research objectives, key questions, the primary techniques used to collect data, the ideal respondents, the ease or difficulty in reaching them, the number of respondents needed, how the collected data will be analyzed, how it will be shared, etc. One thing is for certain however, long gone are the days of the lengthy survey timeline, when a market research project meant at least 6 months of data collection and analysis. Nowadays, on average, most research projects take about one to two months max, thanks to new methods, and new data sources available now, as well as sophisticated technologies such as market intelligence software.
Market research is too expensive
With affordable and scalable research solutions and tools available on the internet today, this is simply not true. Market research can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Online research using survey tools, email marketing platforms and social media polls can be leveraged to provide you a valuable insight into your target audience's minds, at virtually no cost. Then there's always primary methods and techniques like focus groups and expert interviews, which come at moderate costs, but are still relatively expensive. Or, you could just use a market intelligence tool that allows you to identify shifting trends as they emerge and make adjustments accordingly, enabling you to see the complete picture by bringing data from external sources into the mix. Anyway, insights gathered from market research are going to help you bring in much more than you invest in it. They'll bring competitive advantage and growth, building a future for your company, which is something you can't put a price tag on.
Doing quantitative research is enough
Granted that market research has a lot to do with numbers and statistics, but the impression that quantitative research should be enough is mistaken. Surveys and polls will get you quantitative data, but knowing the reason behind a particular phenomenon, the "why" behind is crucial in order to customize your product or service to your customers' needs and demands, and only qualitative research can get you that. This is why market research should always be a balance between quantitative and qualitative research with open-ended questions, customer feedback, and interviews included. It will be really helpful for your stakeholders if you complement each statistic or data with a "why" when presenting your findings, i.e. the reason a certain demographic chooses to behave a certain way.
Surveys are all you need to conduct market research
While surveys are often a primary technique to conduct market research, they're certainly not the only market research technique used to conduct market research. In addition to surveys, organizations employ a number of techniques such as focus groups, interviews, field trials, social media listening, observation, research reports, research partners, competitive analysis, sales data, and market intelligence tools to gather and analyze data on the market and their customers. Surveys are, no doubt, a valuable research tool, but these techniques provide a window into actual social behavior and the adoption of technologies, services, or other offerings among customers. Out of these, market intelligence tools are a recent favorite, as they combine the benefits of a number of market research techniques.
How market intelligence tools can help organizations with market research?
According to Forbes, there are two problems with traditional market research. One, a number of times the data gathered using surveys and polls isn't actionable. For example, just because you have a good idea of who you're targeting doesn't mean you'll be able to formulate a winning marketing strategy around that insight. And two, people lie. Your respondents may lie simply to impress the person administering the survey. People want to make a good impression, whether the results are anonymous or not. Market intelligence allows you to look beyond the individual pieces of the marketing puzzle (like polls, surveys and focus groups) and focus on the big picture. When you utilize market intelligence, along with supplemental market research, you can merge strengths, eliminate weaknesses and holistically identify growth opportunities.
Market intelligence tools like Contify are a very capable form of gathering market research, and one which is being used extensively by organizations. Such tools can gather and analyze data from the internet, including news, blogs, company websites, social media, regulatory and government portals, industry trade association reports, press releases, job boards, review websites, etc., in an automated manner, saving precious time, effort and resources. In addition, market intelligence tools are not only useful for gathering market research data, but to inform strategic decision-making across the enterprise, as mentioned above. Market research is, in fact, nothing but a subset of the larger field of market intelligence.
Market intelligence allows organizations to make informed decisions by supplying them with insights, trends, patterns, etc., propagating a data-driven business approach. Organizations that receive a steady stream of market intelligence have a bird’s-eye-view of their market, and understand their current position in the market, which in turn helps formulate strategies for success and growth. Isn't that the idea behind conducting market research in the first place?
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Successful organizations know their markets, understand their competitors’ and focus on their customers’ wants and needs. They do this by gathering all the information necessary for their businesses to be competitive. They know why people buy their products and services, not just when or where. Not conducting timely market research can result in indecision and inaction, fear of risk or the truth, and/or too many options, which can lead to paralysis. Hopefully, this article was able to dispel myths about market research, and clear any ambiguities about why market research is essential. I also hope that this article was able to shed some light on how market intelligence is a step forward from market research, and a useful strategy for organizations to invest in.