Market research is an important activity for every business to engage in.
1. Determine your target market. A target market is the group or groups of people you will be promoting, advertising, and ultimately selling your product to. To find your market, you should begin by answering some simple questions
- What are the demographics of the area you are competing in?
- Who will buy you products based on price?
- What is the age range?
- Males or females (or both)?
- Are they single or married? Do they have kids?
- What kind of lifestyle does your product relate to? Is it everyday use, specific to times of the year or to specific activities?
- Qualitative research is more exploratory and anecdotal. It is a good way to find out the kinds of feelings and needs people have about your product or service, but it is not statistically representative. Methods include focus groups and in-depth interviews. You could go to a skate park and ask skaters what they think of the logo and newspaper ad you have designed for your skateboard store.
- Quantitative research gets you solid statistics you can base your financial plans on. Surveys can be conducted by phone, in person, by mail, or on-line. The key to getting good research is to get a truly representative, random sample of your target market. For example, you wouldn’t try to survey rich people by hanging out at the check cashing store.
- There is sometimes more than one target market. Finding new markets is a great way to expand your business.
- If you don’t have much of a budget, look first for reports that are free and available on the net. Also look for reports that have been published by your industry association or in trade magazines (magazines for professional hairstylists, plumbers, plastic toy manufacturers, etc.)
- You might be able to get local university students to take on your research as a class project. Contact the professor who teaches a marketing research class and ask them if they have such a program. You may have to pay a small fee, but it will be less than a professional research firm.
- If you are making decisions that will cost you a lot of money if you are wrong, invest in a professional market research consultant. Get bids from a few.
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