First things first. In this post, we would focus on market research, so it is important to understand the difference between market and marketing research.
Market research vs. marketing research
If you are solely interested in the market, its rules of the game, the competitive landscape, the segmentation and positioning – we would speak of market research. And somehow this will be a linear topic – the exogenous factors that exist on the market and a map of the factors in it.
If we dwell into details about the interaction between your company and the market – we tap into marketing research. There we would deal predominantly with one thing. And it is the marketing mix you do or would deploy. It includes for example the tools and strategies that one needs to undertake in order to get advantage of certain market condition. (In a separate article you may learn more about marketing research.)
Starting point in market research
Companies may have wide needs thereby and one should not have a fixed opinion about what needs to be done in order to obtain desired results. You should never underestimate the level of data and information that you may have in-house. It is always good to take the starting point from there. It is important to be critical and evaluate:
- Is the data that I am in disposal of collected in a systematic and accurate way?
- Am I being biased when analysing the data, or we have established procedures and quality controls that disable such possibility?
- Do we feel that we are reaching to the core of the problem, i.e. are we able to get data from the relevant sources – our clients, our competitors, our critical stakeholders?
- Are we able to take an objective view on the ecosystem that surrounds us?
- Do we have the technical capabilities and have the necessary tools to draw conclusions and eventually foresee the future?
- And last but not least – are we able to do all this in a consistent and methodologically significant way?
We have seen many clients that are able to cover many of those questions on their own. But we have also seen the opposite. It means clients with scattered and rudimentary internal practices for market research. Those that technically created a failure-prone environment while believing that they know everything that one potentially could know about the market. Usually, this flaw was crippling the company bottom-up. Data and information was flowing from the lowest positions in the company that were seeing the market in traditional and personally appealing way (e.g. think of merchandisers who do not report on competitive actions in order to put forward certain tactical moves done by their team). Such companies continued to struggle in pulling off a sound marketing strategy and win the competitive game.
Diverse types of market research
Market research is about knowing your market, inside-out. It is not enough that you feel that knowledge – results and evidence should show it. Your activities should be proactive, and not reactive. You should have little or no surprise about critical trends and developments. You may or may not have already achieved this. Luckily, for such diverse set of situations, we acknowledge that one size fits all approach is a myth. And thus we only provide tailored solutions to our clients. Let us see some situations in which you may find yourself:
You are a company that knows the game in a certain industry. Now you got hungry for expansion on new markets. It may be simply because there was no space for growth on your own or there was critical development taking place on the new one. In such a situation, you need support in getting to know and get up to speed with market realities on the new market. When we participate in such project, we speak to each other, evaluate how to best approach the problem and then we get our feet wet in the specific environment. We build assumptions and knock them off as the research goes.
With this support, you get a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ advice and have an idea about next steps that are to be taken in case of the former recommendation.
On your own market, you feel that there is more to be done. It is not enough to do what you do every day. You need more solid insights to know the details. And thus you opt for a quantitative and/or qualitative B2B or B2C research project. Here we come with our expertise and we reach out to many respondents and create opinion on certain topic following a strict methodology employing a scientific approach. We discuss about very technical things, involve few statisticians and data scientists, talk about big data and data visualisations. Then we would probably agree that a strategic view on the market is also of critical importance. It means that we will work on creating wider context and define the competitive strategy that you should follow. There will be a lot of graphs, matrixes and balloons with recommendations.
After such project, you should walk away with a very strong idea about where you are and where you should be in the future. We may have even developed a detailed action plan and embarked on a business development steps for you. Actionable recommendations are what you receive from us.
You have everything you need in-house, really. Great folks to pull out a marketing strategy and only ingredient missing is the daunting data collection. No problems. We reach out as a modular part of your extended in-house team and do this work for you. You can really feel that you have outsourced the part of your work to an external team that will be there for you again once you need it. You will see how it is easy to communicate and integrate those guys in your internal procedures and practices.
Business development support
Well, you know all the research and knowledge, but you lack resources in pulling out and executing those in a certain market. Actually, you want to see the potential, put in some lean resources to test the waters without incurring excessive risks and without overinvesting. Perfect. Let us make a small team of dedicated consultants that will scout the market for you, understand the client base, evaluate best opportunities, reach out, evaluate, analyse, present, pre-negotiate and hand-hold you in the process of meeting them and eventually doing business.
Tailored approach to market research
And this is not all. We would add many layers and flavours in between and on top of it. The only thing that matters is to create value and do it in a most efficient way.
Market research means many things to different people. Never feel bound to conventions and definitions. Each company, each product and service, each situation is different. And we cannot have cookie cutter that will provide off the shelf solutions. Solutions that worked for one company, may not work for you. If the resources that you have can be leveraged, why not to do that and embark on smaller project where part of the work will still be kept in-house by you?
Let us not be afraid of learning new things and not be afraid of sharing knowledge between us. We are proud when our clients manage to do the work on their own once they have seen and learned the best practices while working with us. Almost always it creates a new and more interesting assignment to work on. So, as soon there is trust and professional attitude, we will pick the best form of doing market research for you and create value for your business.