Market research for business owners

Market research is a key part of both successfully establishing a new business (whatever its size) and ensuring ongoing growth. There has never been a more important time for businesses to know their market and stay on top of research as markets have never been more competitive.

There are many forms of market research and all address a different need for a business owner. Knowing what you want to get out of research before you begin will help you achieve the best results for your business.

What does market research look like?

Primary market research. Remember studying history in school and teachers talking about primary sources and secondary sources? No? Nobody can blame you, but the concept is the same for that as it is for market research. Primary research is that which you gather yourself, whether from surveys (telephone, in-store, online), interviews, trade research, networking, focus groups, or informal research.

The benefit of primary market research is that the results respond directly to your own business, rather than you having to analyse secondary market research and apply the results to your own business.

Secondary market research. Secondary research is that done by someone else, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics or an institute representing your industry, where the analysis has already been done and it is left to you to apply this to your own business.

Facts and figures with a pair of glasses and mobile phone

Where to start?

The first step to your market research, whether you are an establishing or new business owner, is to set up your goals.

Without clear goals to your research, there is the risk that you will fail to get what you need out of the different types of data that comes from research. It will also make it that much harder to start out and direct your research.

Is your goal to reach a certain sales target? Is it to increase traffic to your bricks-and-mortar store or your online presence? Do you want to target a new audience or turn one-off customers into regular customers?

Any little change you want to make will dictate the questions you ask when conducting your market research. For instance, if you want to tap into a new market/customer demographic, then you will need to research the consumer habits of this demographic and how they relate to your business. This will shape the decisions you make to your marketing and even the product you offer (or even show you an opportunity to create a new product and diversify your business).

Research your market

When researching your market you will most likely use secondary research to understand trends in your industry, innovations and how you can monopolise on these as well as information about your competitors.

Research your customers

Data about both your customers and your competition/market are as important as one another and should be used in unison. Researching your customers usually involves primary research, where you approach your existing customer base with surveys, interviews or informal discussions and focus sessions to gauge what you are doing right, what you need to improve and learn from any criticisms you may receive.

You can also target your research to potential customers by targeting a certain demographic to find out how you can market your product to this demographic and whether you should (is there a need for your product by certain demographics?)

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