Market research can be invaluable for a business of any size. Finding out what your target market wants, how they think and how they act are crucial if you want to stay ahead of your competitors and run a successful business in any sector.

Understanding what your customers want and what they value will help you to form a marketing strategy, ensuring that your products and advertising will target potential customers in the right way and in the right places. By using the insights you have gained through market research, your marketing strategy has a far better chance of delivering results.

What is market research?

Market research is the act of obtaining information about the needs, desires and views of a target market. Market research can be conducted either in-house or you can use a specialist market research provider.

If you choose an external company, it could be a good idea to ask them some questions beyond the basics – such as what is market research?! Asking the right questions will quickly enable you to find a company that is a good fit with your business, for example:

Where are market research participants sourced?

If a market research exercise targets the wrong people you will not learn anything about your target audience. Therefore, it is essential to make sure the basics are in place and that you are happy with the company’s ability to obtain participants from your target audience.

Industry experience

It’s important to select a market research company that has experience within your sector. This experience will mean the research provider comes to the table with a prior understanding of your type of business, together with familiarity with industry-specific threats and opportunities.

Objectives experience

In addition to choosing a provider with experience of your industry, it can also be useful to find a provider experienced in the type of market research you are conducting, be that product testing, brand awareness, or loyalty and satisfaction.

Can surveys by undertaken on mobile devices?

With the majority of people now using mobile devices – in fact, around one-third of surveys are conducted on a mobile device – you should ensure that the provider’s surveys are optimised for mobile. This will ensure, not only that the survey works on a mobile device, but also that it is mobile-friendly, with punchier questions and an easy-to-use format.

Turnaround time

You should gain a clear understanding as to timings before you proceed with a researcher. This includes how long it will take to create the survey, how long the survey will run for and how long until you receive the results of the survey. You need to ensure that the provider you use can work to the timeline you require.

Differentiators

If you now have a shortlist of potential market research companies from which to choose, you should ask the providers how they differ from their rivals. This should give you a clearer understanding as to how each provider can benefit your firm.

The results

Lastly, you should ensure that the researcher will provide the results of your market research in the form that you require, be that an in-depth report with summaries and recommendations, or as raw data.