To prioritize what to research is often difficult. If you have never done formal market research, it is hard to resist the desire to get all your questions answered the first time you decide to do it.
If you find yourself with a laundry list of questions, hit your mental reset button and start from scratch thinking about what business goals the research would support.
The fundamental question is: How will you use the results from the research?
The key to answering this question is to discern between “nice-to-know” and “must-know” information. This is easier said than done, particularly if no previous research exists and every potential piece of data sounds important.
To determine the “must-know” information you need in the context of your business goals, you have to answer these two additional questions. These two questions are related, but not the same.
Critical Information For Decision Making
What critical piece of information do you need to make a particular decision? This may be a go/no-go decision on a product launch, pricing strategy, advertising campaign, equipment investment, etc.
For instance, a client needed to make a decision on how to position a new product the company was launching. The research plan was to test different positioning concepts, identify the one that resonated the most with the target audience, and provide insights to why.
The client’s advertising agency was then responsible for implementing the results by translating the insights into effective ads and marketing collaterals.
How would you implement the research results? You may use them to design or optimize products, set prices, identify profitable target markets and how to reach them, determine what to say in an advertising or PR campaign, or how to respond to competitors’ actions.
I worked with a client who wanted to know if there were significant differences between two target segments. To find differences, we needed to increase the sample size, which would increase the cost of the project.
However, when I asked if the product would be marketed differently to each group, the answer was “no.”
Consequently, it was clear that this information wasn’t critical to either the decision or the result implementation. The client dropped the question, and we gained focus, saving money in sample and scope.
In short, to prioritize what to research, think first about what “must-know” information you need before doing market research. As a result, you will get insights that are relevant and help you make sound business decisions.
For more information on the market research process, check: Step by Step Guide to the Market Research Process
as published on May 4, 2012 by the Dallas Business Journal