Market Research Myths and Facts for Businesses

Talking about market research myths, one segment of business owners think of market research as simply perceptions of customers or target audience towards a particular brand, product or service. Businesses look at market research differently at different stages of their business cycle. This post on market research myths is an attempt to list common business misconceptions and share the other side of market research that may help debunk some of these myths. Necessity and Timing Today, when go-to-market cycles are getting shorter, a certain set of start-ups look at market research as an activity that is not worth their time in initial stages. Or they wait for collecting some ‘business data’ (customer preferences, products/services in demand, etc) before opting for market research. However, market research can help these businesses go-to-market quickly AND ‘successfully’ with data and information analysis that may answer some of their questions readily. There have also been instances of growing companies as well as companies doing well not prioritizing market research enough and at regular time intervals. It is important for growing companies to keep a tab on their customer satisfaction and ‘options’ that their prospects may be looking at. Without market research, to sustain growth in today’s fast-moving industry pace is a challenge. Companies doing well or leading players in their segments need on-going market research to maintain their current position and ensure that their customers do not shift base for ‘any reasons’. This is possible with understanding the competitive landscape and doing necessary competition analysis, both of which are easily presented and interpreted by market research. Cost and Resources (internal v/s external) A common market research myth is that it is expensive. This needs to be looked at from two viewpoints. A start-up may think of a subscription to a market research reports library as expensive because it has other equally important aspects of business to invest into. On the other hand, a growing company or a industry leader may look at the cost of market research as doing an investment in something that they ‘already know’.  Both of these viewpoints need to be aggressively countered. For a start-up, investing in market research is important to support the other important business aspects and decision making processes. If a time bound subscription to market research is out of budget range, adhoc purchase of syndicated market research reports is an option that helps them with limited but relevant data and analysis that supports their business decision making purposes. For companies that are in fast-growing stages and organizations that are market leaders, it is important to understand that market research always has a ‘new perspective’ to offer irrespective of their business standing. ‘What we already know’ mindset restricts these businesses from exploring opportunities that may be hidden somewhere in these market research information. These include innovation in products, customer preferences across geographies, competition R&D and so many other business factors that are critical and cannot be ignored even by market leaders. With regards to resources, one prevalent market research myth is that businesses always need to engage external resources (consultants, agencies, etc) to get required data. This is not always and necessarily true. Internal resources, if effectively utilized, can be used for getting feedback and suggestions from current customer base. This becomes all the more easier, if the base of these customers or a sample as they are called in market research is small in size. Getting testimonials that offer insights or ‘views on market trends’ from an influencer prospect via internal resources are easy processes, primarily because of the ‘known’ factor amongst both parties. Objectives and Expectations Businesses have different objectives of doing market research. Expectations, however, remain on common one line of increasing the top or bottom line. Gradually, this may be true but it is important to map immediate expectations and objectives of doing market research. Is the market research done with one single point in mind or is it to address multiple pain points of a business? If the objective of doing market research is to identify customer satisfaction level, the expectation should not be to achieve 100% customer satisfaction immediately. The expectations should be set to find reasons and action points that will eventually help achieve 100% customer satisfaction. The myth of data accuracy and expectations of removing uncertainties also need to be addressed. Market research does not always guarantee accuracy of data and information because generally the ‘sample’ identified for doing market research is a part of the whole target audience. This data and information is aimed at ‘helping’ take business decisions based on facts and figures instead of ‘gut’ or non-statistical understanding. The probability with market research becomes higher as compared to without taking help of market research. Similarly, market research does not remove uncertainties from industry environment or targeted business cycle. It aims to ‘help’ businesses fight these uncertainties with comparative ease that comes in the form of data and analysis.