How to conduct market research
Market research is the process of gathering information on how people will react to your current or potential products and services. This will enable you to make informed business decisions in the start-up, development and growth phase of your organisation.
Market research can be complex or straightforward. It is generally very valuable and worth the investment. It is a good idea to do some form of market research to help to improve your services.
Also refer to How to decide if you need to do market research.
What can market research tell us about our organisation?
Market research can answer many different questions about your organisation:
- What is the potential take-up of our services?
- How can we attract new clients?
- How can we establish or improve our organisation’s brand?
- How can we define our area of expertise and make our services more appealing?
- How can we ensure our marketing budget is on target?
Information gathered through market research can guide you to optimise your business plan or improve your day-to-day activities. It can help to ensure you are on the pathway to achieve maximum business growth and excellent service delivery.
Plan when to conduct market research
Whether you know it or not, when you talk with your clients, you are usually doing market research. Formalising the process can provide you with much more targeted information to help you get to know your clients, improve relationships with them, and adjust services to meet their needs better.
Market research should ideally be undertaken as a part of your organisation’s business planning. An accurate assessment of the market and is equally important both for new and existing enterprises.
Identify your "market segments"
Market segments are distinct groupings of existing and potential clients.
- Primary market segments include your main client group - e.g. all NDIS eligible people in your defined location.
- Secondary markets may include relevant segments for your organisation - e.g. all NDIS eligible people in a defined area requiring a specialised service that you offer.
Make sure the market segments you want to target are relevant to the services you offer. For example, you may wish to focus the families of NDIS eligible people because they may be involved in the decision making for their dependents.
A targeted approach assures stakeholders, donors or investors that your organisation is a ‘good fit’ for them as funding partners.
Start by doing primary market research
Primary market research is the research you gather through your own efforts. For example, you might ask your clients to respond to some questions or a survey.
Ask yourself the following questions to help work out what information you want from your clients.
- Who are my clients and how am I reaching them?
- What services do they need or want?
- Am I meeting their needs?
- How can we improve services to clients?
There are many ways to reach your clients.
- Face to face contact
- Phone calls
- Sending emails
- Sending a survey via email or mail to existing clients. This could be a simple set of questions on how you are tracking, are their needs being met and what else can you do to help them?
- Developing a social media campaign or closed interest group. You could pose a topic to collate feedback
- Organising small focus groups of existing clients.
Next step - secondary research
You can only gather limited information via primary research. Secondary research uses existing resources such as business records, past surveys, research studies and published data. It can be less time consuming than primary research and less expensive so you may opt just to do secondary market research.
Some things to consider when reviewing these documents are:
- What are the demographic characteristics (age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, religion etc.) of your clients? Do you provide for all life stages or touch points along the way?
- What trends are influencing your business - economic conditions, client preferences, price, new technology? Are those conditions changing?
Consider conducting a SWOT or PEST analysis.
Reach the people that matter most and design your own survey with confidence.
Advice on the best ways to do market research for your business plan.
An easy guide on how to conduct market research, step-by-step.