“Arrrrrrrgh!! Just what is wrong with my new marketing campaign? I swear I did everything right for this -- everything!”
Does this sound like a cry you or your colleagues resonate with?
Well, my friend. We feel you.
In many ways, effective market research demands an immense amount of precision. Every step in your market research approach needs to be accurate, in order to gain insights that are not skewed, and are truly representative of your target market. Mastering the skill of market research is especially important because of the wide breadth of uses cases it applies to; for instance, market research is essential in product development and design, campaign launches, and monitoring your company’s performances in brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Simply put, market research has a far-reaching impact on business strategy no matter the type of industry that you are in -- and that’s why it’s so important to get it right.
Whether you’re conducting your first market research study or are a seasoned professional, look out for these common market research blunders!
Lack of Competitive Analysis
When crunch time comes, we can’t deny that it is tempting (even for just that one moment) to skip competitive analysis, and zoom straight into the strengths and weaknesses of your product. After all, isn’t market research more about your product, than anyone else’s?
As it turns out, not evaluating your competition equates to losing a critical piece of your market research puzzle. If you are designing an advertising campaign, for example, lacking competitive research means being unable to rank your image and place in the market among other companies, or understand what the best time and way to launch your product is, to help you stand out from competitors. That’s not all. Even when designing, developing or launching a product, a lack of competitive analysis causes you to lose out on the following: an understanding of your competitors’ price points, strengths and weaknesses, and problems (which may very well be similar to your own) -- all of which ultimately impact the way your product should be positioned.
It’s important to know who your competitors are but even more crucial to suss out what makes them competition.
Get It Right: To conduct robust competitive analysis, try investing more in competitive monitoring as part of your market
research strategy, which often promises to be fruitful. Many companies appear to have caught on to this too,with Crayon’s study reporting that over half of companies use at least one competitive intelligence software tool, and 39% use two or more tools to support their market and competitive intelligence efforts. Ranging from SpyFu to Google Trends, these tools are great resources to understand search terms popular in your industry and with competitors. Try them out to gain greater insight into your competition! Want to stay ahead of the competition? Then your market research process should be agile- your team should be conducting research frequently.
Using dated market research
A common and dangerous mistake is to conduct market research once, and use those findings from the dinosaur era -- just kidding! -- as benchmarks or findings for consumers today. This inevitably neglects to factor in consumer, product and category disruptions that have happened in recent years. Take industry disruptions for example -- in 2018 alone, Inc reports that insurance, weddings, classroom education, and law industries have all been disrupted with the emergence of innovative technology and well-funded startups. A lack of continual market research would definitely pose a challenge to keep up with such crucial updates and to understand where your product positions amidst new changes.
Get it Right: To stay in touch with your target market, competition and business environment, conduct regular market research! There are a variety of market research tools you can invest in to predict whether your campaign, product or feature will be successful. Typeform, for instance, is a specialised form-builder that enables you to create customized and user-friendly online forms (even including contests, landing pages, and payment forms). A social media search and analysis service, Social Mention is another useful tool to help you get a feel of what people are saying about your industry, company, or any topic that you’re invested in. Interested in finding a fresh and innovative way to shake up your market research process? Remesh’s AI-powered research platform could come in handy for you to gather qualitative insights at a quantitatively significant scale.
While market research may not be a time-sensitive activity, there are various phases of your business development where market research is essential. Here’s a quick, non-exhaustive checklist of important phases to conduct market research:
- when you are starting your business
- when expanding an existing product
- when introducing a completely new product
- when conducting quality checks on your product or service (crucial to pre-empt product or service issues)
- when you are following up on how existing products are being received (for example, in their attractiveness to consumers or the way it is displayed)
- when new campaigns are being launched
- when existing products are offered to new markets
- when gathering current updates on competition
- when understanding industry and economic shifts
One of the world’s best-selling chocolate brands, Cadbury, sets a great example of a business that conducts regular market research at significant business phases to keep in touch with their target market. When Cadbury first launched its new product called the Marvellous Creations Banana Candy, Peanut Drops and Choc Biscuit™, it encouraged consumers to provide feedback of the new product online, and based its marketing strategy on consumers’ responses. Continual market research does miracles in guiding strategic decisions, developing your business strengths, and pre-empting new trends and potential business problems -- so you can be the driving force in your industry.
Limited market research into campaign / product development and design
The 1990s brought with it the rise of the “pure” and “clear” product trend, ranging from clear soap to clear alcohol. This was a popularity wave that Pepsi decided to ride, launching the Crystal Pepsi in 1992 as a new competitive advantage over competitor Coca Cola.
However, the last thing that Pepsi expected was the consumer confusion that happened shortly after the launch of Crystal Pepsi. Why did Crystal Pepsi cost more, when it tasted just like Pepsi?, consumers asked. Was it healthier? Why did the appearance not match up to the taste? That formed the beginning of Crystal Pepsi’s sales decline.
Expanded market research soon revealed that there were other variables which may have affected the reception of Crystal Pepsi. For example, taking a closer look at Pepsi’s competitive environment, close competitor Coca Cola had recently launched its sugar-free clear cola, Tab Clear. This similarity between Crystal Pepsi and an existing product likely caused the confusion about Crystal Pepsi’s properties.
Limited market research into such variables resulted in Pepsi’s launch of a new product it thought was differentiated and tailored to consumers’ wants, but which was ultimately met with consumer confusion and a lack of demand. Unfortunately, Pepsi is not the only victim of this market research blunder, as it is one that happens rather frequently.
Get it Right: To understand the relationship between your campaign or product and customers’ reception of it, you must first and foremost have a comprehensive understanding of factors which influence campaign / product development and design.
Broadly, here are some common variables that are useful to dig into:
- Competitive Environment
- Existing campaigns / products by competitors
- Upcoming campaigns / products by competitors
- Customer Expectations
- Functions of your campaign / product (ergonomics, size, form, messaging…)
- Aesthetics (packaging, features…)
- Customer / viewer values
- Customer / viewer beliefs
- Industry Environment
- Industry trends
- Changes in the wider industry that present opportunities or threats to your campaign / product
Now that we’ve established what factors to research into, how do we ensure that our research methodology yields accurate answers?
First, begin by closely examining the questions you ask your customers. Poorly written questions (such as leading or double-barrelled questions) in online surveys or even face-to-face interviews often result in skewed research data, which in turn leads to an inaccurate understanding of relevant variables. Craft unbiased questions instead, that can give you accurate insights into your customer’s mind!
A good balance of quantitative and qualitative research always helps, too! Surveys and experiments provide numerical primary data, which complement well with an understanding of underlying opinions and motivations gained from focus groups and observations. Insights software such as Remesh can help you enjoy the best of both worlds, by using AI to combine quantitative and qualitative research. With such software at your fingertips, you can understand customers’ expectations and needs in no time!
With an accurate and methodical approach, you’ll be able to rapidly reap the full benefits of market research. The challenge, then, comes in watching out for market research blunders that are not as obvious as you think they are. People say that mistakes are the best way to learn, but hey -- what a great perk it’d be to learn and watch out for them too, right?