What is Marketing Research?
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing research is the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services.
Every small business owner-manager must ask the following questions to devise effective marketing strategies:
- Who are my customers and potential customers?
- What kind of people are they?
- Where do they live?
- Can and will they buy?
- Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want at the best place, at the best time and in the right amounts?
- Are my prices consistent with what buyers view as the product’s value?
- Are my promotional programs working?
- What do customers think of my business?
- How does my business compare with my competitors?
Marketing research is not a perfect science. It deals with people and their constantly changing feelings and behaviors, which are influenced by countless subjective factors. To conduct marketing research you must gather facts and opinions in an orderly, objective way to find out what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell them.
Why do it?
It is impossible to sell products or services that customers do not want. Learning what customers want, and how to present it attractively, drives the need for marketing research. Small business has an edge over larger concerns in this regard. Large businesses must hire experts to study the mass market, while small-scale entrepreneurs are close to their customers and can learn much more quickly about their buying habits. Small business owners have a sense their customers’ needs from years of experience, but this informal information may not be timely or relevant to the current market.
Marketing research focuses and organizes marketing information. It ensures that such information is timely and permits entrepreneurs to:
- Reduce business risks
- Spot current and upcoming problems in the current market
- Identify sales opportunities
- Develop plans of action