The Organic Kids Company, or OKC, has carried out market research from the point of company formation to the current day. The company’s tour around the festival circuit giving out free drinks and asking for feedback, has become a well told story of contemporary branding.
Consistent consumer communication has always played a major role in OKC’s overall growth strategy; it has offered the multi million pound company the chance to make critical growth decisions, informed directly by their customer base. “Many companies think that market research is something that you do before you begin the company formation process and during the start up phase,” says OKC Brand Director Jo Brothers, “but for us, the customer and market place are dynamic and therefore so are we.”
Identifying your customer base and understanding their demographic profile is vital to any company’s growth and progress. As we have discussed in other posts, advertising and marketing are costly, so before you begin to communicate a new product launch or service it is crucial you have assessed whether there is a demand and if your customers will buy the product, through market research. It is also important that you have a comprehensive understanding of your sector and competitors, so you know where your brand is positioned and how best to increase your market share. For many small businesses market research is an activity they choose to outsource, however, this can be costly. We asked Brothers and a couple of other industry experts, to give us their top tips on how to carry out market research.
Take time to understand your customer
Though OKC now outsources some of they company’s market research activity, when they first started, budgets were low and resources were stretched. As a consequence, the first market research OKC carried out was basic, but very effective – they asked people what they thought of the product, how they thought it could be improved and how they would like to be told about it. Brothers still feels that this is the most effective approach. “We didn’t just go out on the street; we went to places where we thought our brand’s particular demographic would be. Initially, this gave us unparalleled access to our consumer base and now this strategy is used to gain feedback on new products and the effectiveness of a particular marketing campaign.”
Qualitative vs Quantitative
While it would be nice to imagine that market research is as simple as going out and asking consumers what they think, to get the most out of the activity, it is needs to have some element of theory.
Margaret Sunderland, lecturer of marketing and business at West Midlands University, suggests adopting a two pronged strategy. “The best approach is to use both qualitative research to get an in-depth understanding of what your customers want and their perception of your brand and quantitative research to ensure you are getting a broad view of your sector.”