While many consumers thoroughly research every product they purchase, others are “whim shoppers,” choosing what as well as the when and whereas the fancy strikes them. Factors that influence both types of shoppers include brand loyalty, the “trend” quotient, peer reviews, and of course, cost. These are but a few of the myriad of aspects/elements/considerations that impact purchasing decisions.
Savvy business owners understand that market research can answer important questions concerning the relationship between their goods or services and the buying public. Just as a road map guides travelers toward their destination, data gleaned from market research directs companies in the pursuit of their business goals. It unlocks the answers to questions such as—
- “Who are our customers?” by determining the age range, educational level, income status, etc., of the “typical” purchasing consumer.
- Are they impulse or advanced-planning shoppers?
- How often do they purchase said goods/services?
And the list goes on and on and. You get the point. Market research is a highly valuable tool.
This wealth of critical data can be gathered in DIY fashion or by a team of professionals. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
Expert Market Research
Contracting with a professional market research firm takes the burden of researching customer preferences, habits, and demographics from the company’s shoulders. These folks know the world of market research because it’s their job to know it. Their findings will be delivered in neatly packaged reports, accompanied by instructions on how to gain the most insights from said findings. Of course, such expertise comes at a cost that may be out of reach for smaller firms or those in the start-up phase. Even larger, more established businesses may also feel the price is beyond their budget.
The DIY Approach
Businesses of any size can conduct market research via a more hands-on, do-it-yourself approach. The already established relationship they’ve nurtured with existing customers can open doors to gathering feedback and launching a dialogue. Being familiar with and known in the community creates a sense of trust that encourages folks to share their personal information, habits, likes/dislikes, and opinions more freely. Controlling the cost of gathering this information is easier when the research arm remains within the company. However, deciphering the data and moving forward with an actionable plan may be more difficult without the assistance of a professional team.
The Key Ingredient
Conducting highly focused data mining is the key to gaining usable, beneficial insights from any method of market research. Strive to plunge beneath the surface for specific details rather than merely skimming stones along the water’s surface. Think focused, accurate, detailed. It’s in the details that you will uncover the most valuable information.
To learn more about the online tools and resource used to gather market research data, check out this compilation by Sig Euland, contributing editor for PracticalEcommerce.
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