Tuesday, August 28, 2007

7 ways to use market research

Often we think of market research as a way to get insight from customers with regard to our own company. But, that's not its only use. Here are some ideas:

  1. measure, rank and score yourself on issues that are important to your organization (Key Performance Indicators) or the customer (Customer Core Values). Don't bother measuring things that are not important to either you or the customer.
  2. check out your competitors. So, you know who to copy (and in which way), whose customers to go after (because they are dissatisfied) or leave alone (because they are way too loyal). Maybe you are uncomfortable asking about your competitors, but an independent researcher is not. That's their job!
  3. find out if the perceptions that employees have of their organizations matches the perception of customers and make adjustments when and where necessary.
  4. establish a common starting point (a common data-backed assumption) in your organization with regard to opportunities. This, so that innovative ideas are not shot down or delayed just because of different suppositions. This is especially true when the decision-makers have varying degrees of experience with the issue or look at it from different angles. An example: the director and supervisor may have different assumptions. Whose is most likely to be correct? Whose is most likely to "win" without independent insight.
  5. determine desired ROI. For example: Based on the research data, can you gain 5% market share? What would be the source of this growth? How much would it cost? Is it worth the effort?
  6. If your organization is not yet into ROI, you can use the data to set quantifiable and realistic objectives. Example: if the research shows that you have a 50% market share, is it realistic to set an objective of 25% growth over the next 12 months? In other words, you need to know what your market share is. Otherwise you can't determine if your growth objective is realistic.
  7. create a unique value-added experience. Nowadays it's not just the product that is important. It is the experience when purchasing or perusing the product, online or offline, that is. Through research (mystery shopping) you can find out what customers find a "wow" experience.

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