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How market research can help refine your business planning

Market research is an effective tool to assist your business planning.

It is about collecting information that provides an insight into your customers thinking, buying patterns, and location. In addition, market research can also assist you to monitor market trends and keep an eye on what your competition is doing.

Successful businesses undertake market research on a regular basis to:

  • identify potential new customers
  • learn more about existing customers
  • inform their decisions regarding existing and new products or services
  • better understand their competitors
  • test new markets
  • identify performance, pricing or promotion opportunities.

Define your market research objectives

It’s important to clearly define your objectives in order to achieve useful results from your research. Clearly defined objectives will help identify the best methods to conduct your research.

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You will also need to determine the time frame and budget you can allocate to undertake the research. You might consider using a professional market research company to assist you.

Sources and types of information

There is a variety of data sources to assist you in researching your:

  • customers
  • competitors
  • industry
  • location

Primary research refers to information gathered from original sources such as:

  • surveys
  • face-to-face interviews
  • focus groups
  • customer feedback
  • questionnaires

Secondary research is information and data that has already been collected and analysed by other sources such as:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • industry and trade publications
  • social media and websites
  • marketing and consumer lists
  • newspapers and media
  • IBISWorld

The types of information you collect through these sources may be quantitative or qualitative.

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Qualitative information measures the values, attitudes and views of a particular sample. This type of information is useful if you want to understand why people buy your products, how they respond to your advertising or their perceptions of your brand.

Quantitative information is based on statistics and may be used to predict market penetration, future earnings etc.

Collect, analyse and act on the results

After identifying the source and type of information you need, you can start to collect it.

It is important not to allow your opinions or preferences to affect your research. Having a preconceived idea of the results will bias your research and provide false information. Remain open minded and be prepared for unanticipated results.

When processing data make sure you:

  • keep your market research objectives in mind
  • categorise data according to what is most relevant for your business, don’t become side-tracked by information that is just interesting
  • collate your data using tables or lists to make it easier to identify certain trends and themes.
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You may need to collect additional information if your results are inconclusive. Analysing the data should allow you to draw some conclusions regarding your initial objectives.

 

This article is republished from the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) website. The SBDC is a WA State Government agency that supports small business. Please read the disclaimer before relying on this information, which has been developed primarily with Western Australian businesses in mind.

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