Market research is not just the most potent, proven and practical method to answer critically important business questions, but it is the only way that does so in a reliable manner. Otherwise, instead of getting meaningful data, executives and leaders are forced to rely on gut feels and guesstimates. That’s not strategic – that’s luck!
Below we highlight 20 key market research questions that your business needs to answer; not just to ensure short-term success and stability, but to ensure long-term survival and growth. Use these as examples of good market research questions and then see what follow-up questions come out of your discussion:
- Who is currently buying our products and services? - Because you hopefully have data on your current customers, this question is one of the best to answer first with market research. By using the pre-existing data, market research can uncover trends in demographics, sources, etc. that exist within your current customers. Through this you’ll learn who your current customers are and what your best leads look like.
- What motivates, influences and incentivizes these people to choose us? - Your business should understand how and why you are beating the competition when it comes time for a lead to choose a vendor. Does your customer service persuade them to choose you? Does your price make the difference? Is your account management and reporting most important to leads? By finding out what is important in a lead’s decision making process, you can create content and messaging on your website to make these deciding factors stand out.
- How are these people buying from us? (e.g. direct, online, channel partners, affiliates, etc.). - The more information you know on your current customers, the better understanding you’ll have about future customers. Through a market research source analysis, you can determine the sources with the best ROI and where to put your marketing dollars.
- Are we charging the right price, and what would the sale impact be by lowering/raising the price? - In business, it all comes down to money and whether you are profitable. By ensuring that your pricing is optimized with market research, you can find the right price point to maximize sales and maximize profits.
- What improvements could we make to existing offerings to improve customer satisfaction, and increase repeat sales and referrals? - Did you know it costs five times as much to acquire a new client vs keeping an existing customer? When signing a new client requires extra resources, you want to be sure that your business is doing everything it can to improve retention. Market research can help you understand what your customers think of your business now and what you could be doing to improve their satisfaction.
- What new offerings could we introduce to our existing customers? - Existing customers are likely still customers because they are happy with your business’ product or service. Therefore, you can utilize market research to determine which offerings your current customers are looking for and how to upsell them due to your already proven ROI.
- Who is not currently buying from us? - In the same way that you want to know why people are choosing your business, you also want to know who is not choosing your business. By using market research to find out why leads ultimately take their business elsewhere, you can address their concerns and start winning more business.
- Why are these people choosing a competitor or alternative? - Through market research, you can uncover why leads are choosing to spend their money with competitors. Then this can help you build messaging to highlight those aspects in your business and to address any common objections people have with your offerings.
- Who are our competitors? - While you probably have a good idea of your direct competitors, market research can help you uncover all of your true competitors. For example, you may be unaware of new companies who have popped up online recently or perhaps a company that encompasses your products and services with more offerings is winning business that could’ve been yours.
- What are our competitors doing to acquire customers? - By doing market research as competitive analysis, you can uncover the tactics and messaging that is helping competitors win customers. Then you can adapt your marketing after the tactics that deliver the greatest ROI.
- How are our competitors perceived by our target audience? - Understanding how your target audience sees competitors can help you identify what is perceived as their strengths and weaknesses. For example, your biggest competitor might be seen as less expensive (which your target audience likes) with awful customer service (which your target audience doesn’t like). Knowing this means you can capitalize on their weaknesses in your messaging while possibly incorporating some of their perceived strengths into your marketing.
- Are we effectively reaching all of the people who would buy from us? - Sometimes businesses are so focused on one particular market that they don’t see all the uses of their product and service. Therefore, many businesses use market research to discover new markets and opportunities that they haven’t thought of before.
- What are the best ways and methods to reach our target audience? - If you’ve already identified who your target audience is, then it’s time to use market research to determine how to reach them. What social networks are they on? Which resources to they look to for expert advice when doing research?
- What are the right messages to convey to our target audience? - When marketing to a target audience, you want to be sure that you’re marketing your business correctly. Market research can help determine the messaging of your ads, website content and other marketing materials to ensure that you are increasing conversions, converting better leads and more.
- Are we effectively reaching the influencers who would convince others to buy from us? (Note: in a B2B context, influencers are often called mobilizers or active customer stakeholders) - In businesses, the person doing research or making calls may not always be the one buying products or services. Because of this, it is important for market research to help determine who these influencers are and how your message can reach them.
- What is happening in the external environment that is increasing demand for our offering? - When there is an increasing demand for your products and services, you want to capitalize on it. Market research identifies when this trend is happening, why it is happening and how you business can make the most of it.
- What is happening in the external environment that is decreasing demand for our offering? - Understanding decreasing demand in your environment helps you adapt to the marketplace. For example, through a small business funding market research study, we find that banks are reducing loan costs. This is an external factor that is limiting demand for alternative loan offerings. So from here, business funding companies can adjust their loan costs or find a different value proposition, such as offering loans for people with bad credit, to market their product & services.
- How is our brand perceived by our target market? - Knowing how your brand is received by your target market can help you determine whether their perception is correct and on-brand. If your company works with businesses of all sizes, but is perceived as offering only small or only large business services, this is a perception you might want to change.
- How is our brand perceived relative to our competitors? - Hearing how your target audience thinks about your brand as compared to your competitors can shed light on pain points and public perception. Perhaps your business gets chosen more often due to your low price but people would prefer your competitor due to their outstanding user experience. Market research identifies these perceptions and can help you business fix bad perceptions while capitalizing on positive ones.
- How should we evolve, adapt or re-invent our brand to increase mindshare and market share? - Thanks to new technology, many industries change their offerings, products and services rapidly to stay ahead of the curve. Using market research, business owners can become thought leaders on new trends and adapt their business to capitalize on market changes before they happen. Otherwise, business owners must rush to change their offerings once they realize market changes are happening and competitors have already made adjustments.
To learn more about the market research questions that your business should be asking, contact the Communications For Research team today. You’ll speak with our co-CEO, Colson Steber, who can help you determine which questions you need to answer and the best ways to answer them.
For more information on how to communicate the value of market research to your clients, download our FREE eBook: