Market Research is a necessary component all businesses need to undertake. If a business can know their customer better than the competitor, they can win in the market. Companies spend thousands of dollars on market research every year, because in order to make good decisions, and to get to know your customer better, you need information.
Research is more than just looking up data, trend reports and observing your customers in their ‘natural habitat’. It is about drawing conclusions and making recommendations from that information.
If you have a retail store, sales associates are the store’s personal representatives to its customers. Sales associates if the face of a brand and is able to conduct primary research to understand a businesses customers better, on a daily basis. Buyers need to understand why the same basic merchandise in New Delhi, India is not selling but doing very well in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sales associates can ask those questions, and create data for management to make inferences about.
What about your customers, what profile do they fill? Do your customers differ across markets and retail locations? Do they care about Fair Trade? Low cost? Having the latest products first? Simply observing and asking questions informally can validate managements target market profiles, but focus groups and formal surveys can also do the trick. Some businesses create consumer advisory panels where typical customers are able to give feedback about store policies, services and merchandise assortment on a weekly basis.
Maintaining good relationships with vendors is important too, as they can inform a buyer on the popular merchandise. Looking to trend reports and magazines are important as well. When I do trend reporting for my business, I look at magazines from around the world. I love seeing what’s hot in London, Moscow, Rio De Janeiro and New York.
The following are a few of my favourite places to find market research:
Where do buyers start when making decisions about merchandise offerings? Talk with vendors to see what is trending, do market research and engage store managers and sales associates. By asking store managers and sales associates to ask specific questions to customers, make notes about what customers are asking for and what products they are buying together, a buyer will have better information to make product decisions. Firstly, a buyer needs to determine the objective of the research, why it is important and then answer how, when and where the research will be conducted. Once this is established, buyers can make store visits to talk with the store managers and sales associates directly, test the method of collecting information and then set up a system for reporting. Once the report starts to generate data and information, a preliminary analysis can happen. With these results, a customer advisory board in a select number of stores should be established. Recommendations from the analysis should be tested. What products do the customers like? What promotional campaign resonates with them? Once the assumptions in the recommendations are validated, buyers are in a much better place to implement new buying strategies and will have support from stores and sales associates.
Market research is a valuable tool to pull together external influences (economic, social, political, legal, environmental and technological) and internal aspects (marketing, sales, policies, competitors and growth strategies) to make decisions that are in the best interest for driving growth in a business.
What is your business’s core objective? How will you connect the dots to satisfy your customer?
Thanks for reading!
Light & Love