6 Essential Market Research Methods You Have to Understand

6 Essential Market Research Methods You Have to Understand

Before crafting any strategy or plan, you need solid market research. Here are some essential market research methods and tricks to try yourself.

Embarking on market research is a complex endeavor, far more intricate than it may initially seem. It's not just a matter of finding a few individuals who match your customer profile and posing a handful of questions. Nor is it as simple as conducting a quick Google search to uncover relevant statistics and results.

However, the real challenge lies in the potential for your research to go astray without the right approach (methodology). You could end up with misleading or incomplete information, which can be detrimental to your business decisions.

Worse yet, you may get data that looks conclusive, making you overconfident about using these findings while crafting a strategy. Needless to say, each of these can be quite problematic and in order to avoid them, you need some essential market research methods and tricks on your side. Here are six such techniques. 

1. Your search is already tainted

The first thing you have to understand is that you’re already carrying the baggage of your previous searches. You’re either a marketing professional, which means that your search has gone all over the place, or a project manager, which means that you’ve already gone into the topic in-depth.

This means that the usual Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques might not work for you, and your search engine results page (SERP) may give you slightly different results.

Second, you might not share the location with your target audience. You may work for the international market or a global market (like most online businesses nowadays). This is why your location might give you SERPs that are different from what you would normally expect to get.

Fortunately, both of these problems can easily be solved with the right VPN for Chrome, Firefox, or whichever browser you prefer to use. There are many such extensions, and all you have to do is find the right one. According to Aleksandar Stevanovic, software reviews expert, these extensions are a much easier and quicker way to secure your online activities than typical VPNs. So, with one of these, you can hide some of these factors and get more unbiased (for example, not influenced by your previous searches) and more relevant (for example, specific to your target audience) results. 

2. Understand the mindset of your customer

The next thing you need to understand is the attitude of your audience toward your product. You see, while they may want your product, they might not be willing to pay for it as much as you’re charging. It may even be something they really desire but not something that’s too high on their shopping priority list.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that not everyone wants to advertise that they’re using your products. This is one of the reasons why more and more people are turning toward crypto casinos. Traditional casinos may ask for your credit card number, and a deposit to your online casino account might appear on your bank statement. With crypto wallets, this definitely won’t be the case. 

Failure to see this might lead you in the wrong direction when it comes to branding. Sure, you want everyone to wear your logo, but are they comfortable with that, and is your branding affecting the integrity of the product package?

The best solution to this problem is to look for an outsider for aid. 

3. Social proof is not always a reliable source of information

If you want to check the reputation of your competitors, you can’t just rely on reading testimonials. While this sounds like a common-sense argument, it’s essential that you hear it out once again.

First, you need to understand that testimonials are hand-picked and used as social proof by the marketers themselves. This means that they cherrypick the best of the best, even then tweaking it a bit in order to give you a sample.

So, if you included this (highly orchestrated) UGC in your research, the results that you would find would be dubious (to say the least).

Instead, you need to resort to a method like social media listening. This way, you can see what the general audience is saying about the brand when they don’t think anyone’s listening. This way, you’ll get closer to the truth, but even then, the information you receive won’t be 100% reliable. 

4. Research your indirect competition

This is a piece of advice that you don’t hear very often but there are a lot of industries where your indirect competitors are just as relevant as direct competitors.

For instance, if you’re opening a pizza place, your guests won’t just have to decide what pizzeria they’re going to order from. First, they need to settle for getting a pizza, and this isn’t a given. 

This is especially the case in the food industry, where people have one place in mind for each food type. This means that if they do decide to go for a pizza, they’ll come to your place, but there are other ideas that they might consider, as well.

In this scenario, you’re actually competing with other businesses that they have some loyalty for and need to come out on top (more often than not). Just keep in mind that in some industries, loyalty works differently. Sure, iPhone users buy iPhones exclusively, but no one eats at just one place or wears just one brand. 

5. Pinpoint what you need to learn

It’s so easy to get sidetracked if you don’t have the main objective of your research. Yes, as ridiculous as it may sound, there’s such a thing as learning too much. Excess information will cloud your judgment, sometimes even sidetrack you.

To avoid this, it's crucial to have a clear research objective. By formulating specific questions you want answered, you're steering your research towards actionable insights, giving you a sense of control and direction.

  • How much are my customers willing to pay for my product?

  • Will they come back for more, and when?

By having these specific questions, you’re directing your research toward actionable information. For instance, knowing how much your customers are willing to pay for your product can help you set a competitive price point. 

Also, this allows you to filter KPIs (key performance indicators) and differentiate them from vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are superficial data points that may sound relevant, but are not directly tied to your business goals. For example, the number of likes and shares is not the same thing as the shopping cart abandonment rate or click-through rate (CTR).

6. Use as many methods as possible

One of the major fallacies that researchers do is make an assumption that they can use just one method to learn all they need. This may sound right; however, you need to keep in mind that every method has its downsides. For example, surveys may not always capture the true feelings of respondents, while focus groups may be influenced by dominant personalities.

Surveys, for instance, are great at getting you the numbers, but without proper segmentation, they won’t give you an idea of what’s really going on in the field.

Interviews give you a more personalized and immersive story around which to craft your strategy. However, they’re tainted by bias, which means that what you learn from one customer might not apply to anyone else. This means that you need more of these interviews, but how many (real, long-form interviews) can you make?

This is why you need to combine both of these methods and seek the truth somewhere down the middle.

Better yet, add more methods to the mix. The more angles you approach this situation, the more conclusive your data will be. 

Asking the wrong questions will give you all the wrong answers

The moment you realize that getting the wrong answer is worse than having no answers at all is the moment you’ll start understanding market research a lot better. The above-listed tips are there to help you start asking better questions and doubting everything you thought you knew about market research. This way, you’ll understand your market much better in no time. 

Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

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