Businesses and marketing strategies are constantly changing. However, one thing that is always steadfast is the need for effective marketing research.
According to recent studies, most organizations typically don’t opt for marketing research or do not follow a sound marketing research process because of time constraints and monetary issues. Unfortunately, it’s not a brilliant move, especially when your business is launching a new product or making a new venture in the market.
Following a proper marketing research process is not expensive, and its benefits are far-reaching. You need to invest in the right approach and follow it to the latter.
But how to do marketing research properly? Before we drill deeply into the importance of having a dedicated marketing research process, as well as the various steps in the marketing research process, let’s first define the process of marketing research.
What is the Marketing Research Process?
For most people it’s a daunting task to differentiate between market research and marketing research, so let’s simplify this for you; market research is all about market investigation. On the other hand, marketing research investigates issues related to marketing.
Marketing research is a tool that organizations use to identify and implement better marketing strategies. It’s also helpful in evaluating business decisions based on the collected data.
In the same way, you can’t go on vacation without a plan. You shouldn’t create marketing strategies without having a reliable backup of data and research. In simple words, the marketing research process is the backbone of business marketing. It helps the marketing team make informed, proper and real-time promotion strategies.
Therefore, we can say that the marketing research process is a survey that helps businesses and individuals identify, understand, and engage excellently with the target audience. It’s a crucial insight that gives the hidden treasures and negativities in the market.
An effective marketing research process provides a broader overview of the marketing landscape, competitors and trends affecting customers and the entire industry. It can be broken down into Customer research, Product research, Advertising research, Environmental research, Sales research and Distribution research.
Indeed, the process of marketing research is not a walk in the park. Sometimes it can be intimidating. Now, where do you start? Which is the most effective path? What do you have to do to ensure that the research process is accurate and offers actionable insights?
Continue reading to find answers to all these questions. Before that, let’s understand the importance of doing marketing research.
Why Is Marketing Research Important?
There are several advantages involved in conducting marketing research. Marketing research replaces assumptions and intuitive decisions with statistical insights to support improved strategy and tactics at its most basic level.
The underlying benefit of the marketing research process is that it allows you to obtain a thorough knowledge of your customers or prospects to take activities that will help you connect with them. As a result, you will have enhanced customer loyalty, engagement, and business growth.
Customer behaviors are revealed through data collected during the marketing research process. The process involves observations, interviews, and other methods of data collection.
The ultimate objective is to understand why customers buy specific things or perform certain activities. Most goods are created to solve a problem. The marketing research approach goes to the heart of those problems and aids in leading the way for new goods or services. It also offers a support mechanism that ensures clients are connected to you, and you can easily help them overcome their difficulties.
Concept testing, establishing if a new product would be popular with customers in the new product development process (NPD), is a typical marketing research topic.
Your organization may build and implement a strategy to more successfully introduce a new product or service or enhance its branding and marketing position based on an analysis of the collected information.
Despite all benefits, many organizations decide to skip marketing research due to constrained budgets or timing issues. This is nearly always a massive mistake, as marketing research is the only way to fully understand the target audience and thereby unlocks the ability to develop the right solutions.
In summary, you should follow the specific marketing research process to achieve the following benefits:
- Spot business opportunities easily
- Reduce the business risks
- Create relevant and effective product or service marketing strategies
- Understand the target audience and know where and how you should advertise
- Know your competitors and plan how you can outsmart them
- Set better and more achievable business goals
- Simplify the decision-making process
How to do Proper Marketing Research
After having understood the importance of marketing research, are you now ready to get started? You don’t have to invest hundreds and thousands of dollars on extensive services to have a reliable marketing research process. Here is a step-by-by guide on how you can do proper marketing research.
STEP # 1: Identify the Problem
Identifying and defining the problem you’re seeking to address is the first stage in every marketing research process. Every marketing strategy or business problem has to be solved.
In that case, you will need extra information to know whether the identified problem is worth it and if a solution is readily available or not.
After identifying a problem, state your objectives. For example, what do you intend to learn at the end of the research process? Which piece of information or suggestion should be highlighted from the study?
It’s crucial to discuss the problem statement and the research objectives with the team members so that you can get feedback and fine-tune the predetermined solutions. The problem you fundamentally need to fix isn’t always what you see at the surface.
Collaboration with other stakeholders aids in refining your grasp of the problem, focusing of ideas, and prioritizing what you intend to discover from the study.
Investigating the problem further will help you also know the prevailing situation and the questions you need to answer to get concrete study conclusions.
Before finalizing the step of problem identification, you need to address knowledge gaps by creating a preliminary list and goals that makes the study well-focused. Know the information you have, what you can access, and what you don’t have to complete the first step of the research process.
STEP # 2: Develop a Research Plan
After identifying a problem, creating research objectives and a preliminary list of questions, the next thing is to have a research plan.
The research plan is what you need to achieve the business goals and to answer research questions. It entails question like; are you interested to know customer opinions about a product or a service? Do you want to get a good picture of customer needs and the related behaviors? Are you looking for sales, expenditure and revenue data?
You need to clarify the type of information you’re looking for, as well as the timing and amount of money required to conduct the marketing research. Some information is readily available, while other pieces need to be collected through primary research.
Generally, a research plan should specify how the research activities will be done, including data collection, how the analysis will be done, interpretation, discussion of research findings and reporting of results.
STEP #3: Conduct Research
The part of conducting research in the marketing research process is fun and exciting. It’s the step that will help you generate the information you need to answer marketing questions.
The section on data collection while conducting research calls you to review literature and pre-existing data to get more insight into a particular problem.
The marketing research process is ideally based at least to some extent on secondary research. Picking important details from already existing research projects, industry reports and customer-satisfaction results will help you keep costs low and collect key insights fast.
After exhausting everything you need from secondary research, shift your attention to primary research. Primary research is whereby you observe, listen, ask questions and interview the target audience to generate accurate and reliable results.
STEP #4: Do Analysis, Interpretation and Reporting
Data analysis transforms the collected secondary and primary data into valuable insights and information to answer research questions.
After analysis, information is interpreted by condensing it into a simple form that can be presented to the manager as a detailed report. Before analysis, you need to format the collected data, clean and edit to ensure it meets the optimum level of your analytical techniques.
Data evaluation and interpretation should give the marketing research project a good flow. The interpretation should also express meaning and give recommendations based on the results.
The marketing research project outcomes are disseminated as a final report in either a written document or a slide presentation. Mostly, a slide presentation is highly preferred.
For large and complex research projects, written reports explain the findings, and the managers can make easy references at any time.
STEP #5: Take Action
The marketing research process is never complete if action is not taken. Once the report is complete, recommendations made and the presentation delivered, the next thing is to implement what is obtained from the research findings.
The holistic approach of taking action involves helping the managers understand marketing research findings and explaining to them the right course of action to take.
If the research project has proper interpretation and translation of the findings to create a sound recommendation, taking action is quite straightforward.
It’s important to note that several marketing research studies never materialize into managerial action. That can happen when the report is overly complicated to comprehend or the insights just do not turn out to point in the direction the company was hoping for.
In other circumstances, the research findings fail to give meaningful insights or solutions, or the report writer fails to make precise recommendations for turning the research findings into management strategy.
These risks may be avoided by paying close attention to research objectives and giving enough time and resources for proper interpretation of study findings for those required to act on them.
The marketing research process is a vital tool in business that can boost marketing strategies. It can be a long process, but is almost always worth it. The first step in the marketing research process involves problem identification, where you focus on the customer’s challenges and how you can solve them. After that, you need to develop a research plan to guide you in gathering information.
When you already have qualitative and quantitative data points, you need to analyze them and develop a strategy to shape the products or services. The strategy is presented as a report, and action is taken.
Follow the five steps of the marketing research process highlighted in this article if you want to achieve business goals, outshine your competitors, understand industry trends and simplify the decision-making process.