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de Paor Consultancy
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Cavan
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Market Research

One big difference between big companies and small ones is the amount of resources large companies dedicate to research. The role of market research is to provide management with accurate, reliable, and relevant information.

In the current challenging environment and the high cost of making poor decisions this type of accurate (and early) information is essential.

Without feedback from the market you will never be able to adapt quick enough to changes and new challenges from competitors whether these are other firms, organisations or even charities chasing donors.

Managers make numerous strategic/tactical decisions so as to identify and satisfy customer and client needs. These decisions are complicated by interactions between product, pricing, promotion and distribution.

Further complications are added by technology, legislation, politics, competition, social and cultural changes etc. The role of market research is well explained by using the DECIDE model

Problem ID research include market potential/share, brand /company image, market characteristics, sales analysis, short/ long range forecasts and trends.

A declining market indicates that the firm is likely to have a problem achieving its targets. Similarly, a problem exists if the firm or organisation is losing market share. The recognition of economic, social, or cultural trends, (eg changes in consumer behaviour and budgets), may point to underlying problems or opportunities.

Some complex marketing research projects require an understanding of sophisticated procedures and analytical techniques. Marketing research techniques now available include:


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The Value of Market Research in Tough Times

The American Marketing Association (AMA) surveyed it membership on marketing in the current economy. 60% of AMA respondents report that their (corporate, association and non-profit marketers) biggest mistake was to avoid marketing when there is an economic downturn.

Further questioning and analysis of the marketers showed that market research is more necessary in a slow economy than ever- particularly with non-profits and associations who rely heavily on donations and memberships.

Highlighting the importance of market research for corporate, association and non-profit marketers, they listed key findings and recommendations:

1. Shape the message; don’t slash the price.
2. Focus on who NOT to target.
3. Stand apart from the crowd.

In the long run and in the current challenging economic climate it is worth investing in knowing what to say and who to say it to. It is more effective to highlight the value in your service or product, rather than cut your price.

 To Survey or not to survey?

Sometimes customers don’t know what they want -however they are unlikely to tell you that they are influenced to any significant extent by advertising or marketing.

Questionnaires, telephone and other surveys need to be well structured, carefully targeted and not too time consuming otherwise busy interviewees will become irritated and switch off.

Good companies never stop learning, and research is a learning process. There is a significant difference between satisfaction and loyalty. For example companies with what they thought were satisfied customers, risk losing market share quickly once competitors offer a slightly better customer experience. So perhaps you should check out the difference before it is too late.

Primary & Secondary research

Primary research is expensive as you are gathering original data. If you want to know what customers or clients think, you ask them; document their responses and then draw your own conclusions. Secondary research is conducted on data already published and is relatively inexpensive.

  • Qualitative research - examples include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and projective techniques
  • Quantitative research uses random sampling techniques and a large number of respondents - examples include surveys and questionnaires.

Depending on budget one could start with secondary research to get background information, and then do a focus group (qualitative research) to explore issues further. Finally one might do a national survey (quantitative research) in order to devise specific recommendations.

Business to business (B2B) research is more complicated than consumer research. Finding the right respondents is crucial since they are often busy, and may not want to participate. It is also different to consumer markets because:

  • The decision making unit and B2B products/applications are more complex.
  • There a much smaller number and far bigger customers
  • Personal relationships are of critical importance in B2B markets.

Market research does not have to be expensive

Small scale surveys and focus groups are low cost ways to gather information from potential and existing customers. Most secondary data (statistics, demographics, etc.) is available on the internet and can be easily accessed using third level students etc. Key clients, customers and opinion makers can be surveyed by telephone using senior management.

In addition most firms and organisations have access to lots of in house data which can be processed for analysis and further use. There are so many options available when it comes to collecting and analysing data that people unfamiliar with research can be overwhelmed.

What Do You Really Need To Know?

One should first identify the questions they have about clients/customers, markets or competitors and determine the specific value of knowing more. Once the scope of the research has been determined one can decide how much of this they can do in house and how much they want to outsource.

The real cost of doing research in-house can be difficult to estimate. You have to consider the full personnel and overhead costs involved but also the business opportunities lost because of the time commitment to the research project.

We will be happy to advise you on your options and assist you in a cost effective manner if and when you require our services. So before you launch a new product or invest in a major advertising campaign why not invest in some market research. It could be a wise  investment.