You know what they say about assuming: don’t do it! While some assumptions benefit us in the short term — like when we see a large animal barreling down on us with bared teeth and we take off in the other direction or when we grab our raincoat upon seeing darkening skies — most of the time, they only pander to fears that have nothing to do with long term reality. In the business world, particularly, assumptions can be creatively and financially disastrous. Not asking questions, not clarifying speculation or gathering facts regarding what is happening in the present, prevents us from seizing opportunities and avoiding threats, both now and in our future business endeavors. Put plainly, relying only on past behavior or experience to predict outcomes means we have little access to growth and potential. The best way to check our personal and professional assumptions, then, is to ask questions. Lots of them. For companies, this means conducting market research that sheds light, not only on what is, but on what could be. Here are a few market research topics your company might want (and need!) to explore:
1. Who is buying our product(s) and who isn’t?
A firm grasp on the demographics of your customers should be the foundation of all your research. Look at your data and note any shared characteristics among your customers. This allows you to paint your ideal customer profile. Furthermore, noticing the type of people who aren’t buying your products will help you devise ways to address their issues and hopefully gain future sales.
2. Who is our competition?
To effectively create your own unique value proposition, you must understand all the players in your market and the perceived value of their offerings. Part of this is also determining why people buy from them, how they are acquiring new customers and what perceptions consumers have of them?
3. Who are our influencers?
It’s rare in today’s business world to rely only on your own sales and marketing teams to promote your brand. For this reason, you need to identify the people who can and do help spread your message so that you can maximize your exposure.
4. What is our brand image?
How people view your company and/or your brand directly influences their buying behavior. Market research will enable you to verify (or not) that their perceptions matches your intentions so that you can maintain (or change) your branding efforts.
5. What is our market share?
Of course, it’s helpful to have a benchmark against which you can evaluate future performance. Research uncovers valuable data about the size of a market, as well as your place in it.
6. What is the right price for our product(s)?
People only buy something if it’s the right price. Use market research to find it.
7. When will the market change?
While it’s safe to assume that a market will change, you should never guess at when or how that might occur. External factors (political, social, economic, cultural, etc.) exert pressure on markets, which means you need to keep abreast of and adapt to them accordingly.
8. Where do people buy our products?
Determining where and how people purchase your products (online, direct, in person, via distributors, etc.) will help you maximize your marketing budget and target future customers.
9. Why do people buy (or not buy) our products?
Although two different questions, we combine them here for simplicity. Understanding why people choose (or don’t choose) your products will help you create content that best supports their preferences regarding the seven Ps (price, product, place, promotion, packaging, positioning or people).
10. How can we improve the customer experience?
Customer experience is the key indicator of a company’s success. You must learn if you’re providing a good one!
11. How can we increase customer satisfaction?
Similarly, you need to know if your customers are satisfied so that you can maintain or gain their business.
12. How can we maximize our messaging and exposure?
People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. Good research helps reveal how well your messaging is reaching consumers and impacting sales.
The CFR Difference
To make the most of any business venture, you have to ditch the assumptions and go with the facts. Solid market research is the only way to know your customers, your competitors and your potential. If you need more information about the market research topics you should be exploring to maximize your business decisions and your ROI, contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR). We have over two decades experience addressing the market research topics that matter.
Please also download our free eBook, “Demographic and Screening Questions: Survey Design Best Practices and Screening Survey Template,” for additional tips on securing the best respondents for the information you need.