Market research is one of the most important parts of any business strategy. Without knowing what your customers want, your product development and marketing efforts are all just shots in the dark. To gain an edge over your competitors, you need every advantage you can get, and market research is one of the biggest advantages available.
Market research reveals four crucial types of information: opinions about your company as a whole, opinions about your company’s specific products or services, opinions about your competitors, and market trends. Opinions about your company and its products or services will let you know what you are doing right and, more importantly, what you are doing wrong. It gives you a way to deal with problems before they become major publicity nightmares. Information about your competitors allows you to see any areas where they have an advantage over you, and where they might be vulnerable. Market trends let you know what customers like, and what they expect to see out of a company like yours.
The chief problem with market research is that it is expensive. It takes a lot of time and effort to find consumers in a particular demographic who have the knowledge you are looking for. Between finding the right consumers and setting up interviews with them and compensating them for their time, the cost per interview is frequently in excess of $400. Worse, effective market research requires more than one interview. In the modern competitive market every dollar counts. Nor is it any big savings to try to save money by doing all the work yourself. In the business world time is money, so either way you pay.
Fortunately, the Internet is changing the way that market research gets done. There are websites where businesses can go to find large numbers of people to ask questions of. Most useful of these are sites like Discuss.IO, that are specifically set up to enable market research. Discuss.IO does the work of finding qualified panelists for any demographic, and also provides tools to enable businesses to set up video interviews with people at home or work. This reduces the overhead so much that market research can be conducted for a fraction of the price of the traditional in-depth interviews.