For startups and small companies, finding the bandwidth to take on market research can be a bit of a challenge. There are time and budget constraints, but taking the time to test an idea in the marketplace and ascertain its viability offers definite value.
If a company has a product in the market that has not shown desired results, or is looking to expand beyond its current customer base, market research will help with understanding the climate in the targeted space, be it business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). Market research is a tool that provides a reliable and accurate portrait of the current market scenario and will influence an organization's decisions and aid it in planning the next steps, including branding and design options and rethinking of strategies.
B2B and B2C potential
Product development at a startup is often intuitive, exploratory, but data derived from market research can be key for complete product conceptualization. Such data will also help companies fine-tune their build strategy and the eventual marketing of the products based on what their audience wants, instead of just talking about what the product can do. In instances where start-ups have identified the segment they wish to cater to, one-on-one meetings with key potential customers will provide information on the needs as well as the pain points of the potential buyer. While many core teams at start-ups have an intuitive vision of what the product capabilities should be, it is always beneficial to buttress this with non-partisan research.
In a business to consumer situation, market research could be in the form of an experiential product testing exercise with volunteers from the potential consumer base or a field pilot to determine the feasibility and robustness of the product and business model.
A key channel for companies to reach out to consumers is social media. Apart from using social media sites to generate buzz and spread the word about the product, online surveys will allow a company to ascertain product viability and garner audience perception. Such information will allow the company to proactively tailor its marketing and branding activities. For example, a company that wishes to revamp its logo can engage in a completely online, Facebook and Twitter based campaign to get feedback and audience votes.
Watching the Clock
Does market research work for companies that are rushing to get their product to market? Taking the time to engage in research may seem like a bad idea for some. But market research can be done quite rapidly in a less formalized, more qualitative manner, using dipstick surveys and small focus groups, and leveraging social media. In fact, when working off limited budgets and timeframes, being able to tell the potential customers what they want to hear, to align product pitch and pricing to the needs and mindset of the audience, gains further importance. If the product and audience are not in sync it can cause costly mistakes and lead to a lot of time (and money!) spent revamping or rethinking strategy.
Engaging in market research can therefore help accelerate RoI. By knowing where, how and what the audience expects, a company can fine-tune product design, choose the channels to sell its products, create branding around that and ensure that it is entering the market at a price point that is acceptable to its potential buyers. In other words, it can play to its true potential and taste success.