The alignment between business goals and the market research approach is critical for actionable market research.
For entrepreneurs who are considering investing part of their marketing budget in market research, this is my advice: Think very carefully about how you plan to use the research results in your business decision making.
Have A Clear Idea of Why You Do The Research
Although this should be obvious, I meet many business owners interested in doing market research but with a vague idea of how to use the resulting data.
Then, when they can’t make decisions based on the research they are disappointed. The solution is to spend the time upfront, aligning research objectives, and business goals.
Unfortunately, due to very tight deadlines, businesses often don’t spend enough time on clarifying goals and desired outcomes. We face the same scenario when businesses think of market research at the last minute before a big decision.
It Is About Customer Acquisition & Retention
In the grand scheme of things, businesses are either working to acquire or retain customers or both, for sustainability and profitability purposes.
This means that any market research should contribute with insights that support decisions related to customer acquisition and retention strategies.
These two strategies often guide the choice of research methodology.
Depending on whether customer acquisition or customer retention is the main priority, we have to determine:
- The research design and analytical approach we should use to analyze the data.
- The questions we ask in the research
- The type of people we need to include in the sample.
Your Business Goals & Target Sample
In a conversation with a client wanting to implement a brand tracking study, he asked me who we should include in the study sample: Customers or Non-customers?
Another client, interested in conducting pricing research before deciding to change prices, asked the same question.
In both cases, my question was: What is your priority at the moment: Acquire or Retain customers?
If the main goal is customer acquisition, we need to include non-customers in the sample. As a result, we can uncover how receptive they are to our brand and prices and how likely they are to join our customer base.
On the other hand, if the focus is on customer retention, we need to target customers. This would allow us to take a pulse on our brand and understand their likelihood to defect or buy more of it when faced with price changes.
By aligning business goals with the outcome from different research methodologies, entrepreneurs would be able to maximize the return on the investment made in market research and make the research insights actionable.
An earlier version of this article was published on April 1, 2011, by the Dallas Business Journal