Market research may seem like a daunting task for the average small or midsized business. Most would say that the budget simply isn't there. However, there are many low-cost, simple ways that you can begin conducting market research today.
Learning about your consumers will help you customize your products and services. Market research can be an expensive affair, and this is especially true if you are a small business or a startup. Finding ways to help you save finances and extract maximum value from the research is imperative. Here are a few ways you can conduct consumer market research to get the best out of it.
Use social media to conduct your research.
A lot of consumer insight can be generated through social media. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the best mediums to conduct market research. Post a question in a group or create an opinion poll and engage with your consumers. A lot of analytics tools are also available on these platforms that you can later pay for and use.
Ask friends and family for input.
As a startup, you may not have the resources to conduct a focus group study or implement test marketing. In these cases, taking the help of your family and friends is easy and cost-effective. One of the benefits of this is that your friends and family may already be target consumers of your competitors. Using this base to test out your products and services will give you valuable insights into your target market.
Hire grad students for field work.
You don't need to hire a permanent staff member to do your market research. A lot of students are interested in making a quick dollar. Hire college students to help you with your field work. You can even hire Ph.D. students to help you with your primary research. Paying stipends will be much more feasible than paying salary and benefits to a full-time employee.
Identify nearby areas for test marketing.
If you want to release a test product into the market, find a locality that is geographically close by and contains a demographic population that most resembles your target consumers. This will help you avoid incurring costs on traveling to your target market.
Utilize third-party research findings.
Research that others have already conducted serves as a good foundation for your own research. Look for similar research conducted by renowned scientists or other companies. Use these findings to make business decisions. This research will also give you an insight into industry trends and competitors' performance, both of which will help you design your offerings.
Implement free online software.
Google offers multiple online solutions in the form of Google Forms and Google Trends to businesses looking to find customer-related information. By using Google Forms, you can send questionnaires to target consumers. This data can then be charted using Google Trends. Existing information in the form of statistics is also available here. SurveyMonkey is another tool you could use to design questionnaires and surveys and easily collate input. This way, you don't need to spend on printing paper questionnaires.