Uncovering Hidden Treasures: Essential Tools for Market Research
"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston
Maybe I was an archaeologist in my past life. You know… in the likes of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. Because I am always fascinated by what has been uncovered that sheds new light on the history of human civilization. I’m sure Nathan Drake (from the video game Uncharted) would be excited to find items of pottery in the ancient city of Pompeii in a room that was likely part of the servant’s quarters in a vast residential complex. And I imagine Robert Langdon beaming to find a giant Buddha among the diminished Dadu, Qingyi, and Minhe Rivers in Leshan, China. Or the Relic Hunter’s Sydney Fox walking in footprints made from a 113-million-year-old 7-ton acrocanthosaurus and a 60-foot tall sauroposeidon in Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.
Well, this fascination for discovering unbeknownst secrets combined with creativity and problem-solving skills, come in handy as a marketing consultant too. Only… instead of relics, I find hidden sources of market and competitive intelligence. After all, in my profession, it is important to understand the dynamics of the market at a macro and micro level in order to develop effective marketing strategies for my clients and their businesses to stay competitive in the market.
So, in essence, I could be considered a treasure hunter of some sort. Because like them, I look for clues and craft a map outlining a company’s market strategy for both short-term and long-term success. If only I could look as hot as Alicia Vikander or Angela Jolie in Tomb Raider or have the tools of Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Wait… actually, in Market Research, there are some cool tools to use, as well. Here are some of them:
PRIMARY RESEARCH is research that is conducted by the business itself. It can provide specific and detailed insights into the target market.
Surveys are a popular tool for gathering information from a large number of people. They can be conducted in a variety of formats, including online surveys, paper surveys, and phone surveys. Surveys can be used to gather both quantitative data (e.g., how many people prefer a certain product) and qualitative data (e.g., why people prefer a certain product).
Focus groups are small, moderated discussions that are used to gather qualitative data on a particular topic. A focus group might involve 6-10 participants who are asked to share their opinions and experiences related to a product, service, or marketing campaign.
Usability studies are often employed as a way to observe how consumers "use", "experience" or "interact" with a product/service, specific features and communications. Once complete the product/service, features & communications will be revised as needed to improve "usability" for marketplace deployment.
Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing, and can be used to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. Interviews are often used to gather more in-depth information than is possible through surveys or focus groups.
Customer feedback can help businesses identify areas for improvement. There are a variety of customer feedback tools available, such as online review platforms and customer satisfaction surveys.
SECONDARY RESEARCH is research that is conducted using existing data and research that has been collected by others. This may include:
Market research reports: These reports are often called "syndicated studies" and are created and published by a 3rd party source (Gartner, Forrester etc) based on information gathered from key industry players. These reports are a primary source used to analyze current/future market trends & statistical data about industry sectors and industry-specific competitive array of players.
Government publications: Government agencies such as the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics produce a wide range of reports and data on various topics, including population demographics, employment statistics, and economic trends
Trade publications: industry-specific magazines and journals that provide news and analysis on trends and developments within a particular industry.
Company websites and annual reports: Many companies publish information about their business operations, market segments, and financial performance on their websites and in annual reports. This information can be a valuable source of secondary research for businesses that are looking to understand the competitive landscape or gain insights into specific industries.
Social media monitoring tools can be used to track what people are saying about a brand or product on social media platforms. This can provide valuable insights into customer opinions and preferences and gather a wide range of data on consumer behavior, including sentiment analysis, trending topics, and brand mentions.
Once the data is collected, the next step is to analyze the data using data analysis tools. These tools can help businesses identify patterns, trends, and other insights that can inform marketing decisions. Here are a few examples of data analysis tools:
Microsoft Excel - a great tool for sorting, filtering, and analyzing data, as well as creating charts and graphs to visualize data.
Google Analytics -ideal source used to track website traffic and user behavior. It provides data on website visitors, including demographics, behavior, and traffic sources, as well as insights into website performance and engagement.
Tableau – a data visualization tool that can be used to create dashboards, customized charts/graphs & reports from a variety of data sources in an interactive and visually appealing way.
SAS - a software suite for data analytics that includes tools for data management, statistical analysis, and data visualization. It is widely used in the financial and healthcare industries as well as governmental agencies.
SPSS - a statistical software package that can be used for data analysis, data mining, and data visualization. It includes a variety of tools for statistical analysis, such as regression analysis, factor analysis, and cluster analysis.
So, just as a successful archeological dig can provide a wealth of information about a particular time period or civilization, an effective market research study can provide businesses with valuable insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and trends that can inform marketing strategies and product development.
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