In yesterday’s post we looked into the way successful brands use market research to inform not only their company formation, but future decisions. We investigated the way in which OKC – The Organic Kids Company – strategically uses market research to make customers feel part of the brand, therefore securing customer loyalty. In today’s post we look at various methods of market research and how they can be used cost-effectively.
What do you want to know?
Like any marketing spend, research must deliver on your objectives. Therefore, establishing them is an integral part of the process. “Know what you want to find out, ensure that you don’t already know it and then ask the question.” Says Jo Brothers OKC’s brand director.
“For example, while we use some element of market research to inform all of our product decisions, when we were approached by a major fast food company to stock our products it was vital we established what our consumer’s reaction would be. For many of our existing customer base, they felt that we were establishing a partnership with a large corporation that was the antithesis of our brand identity and ethical stance. It was important that we knew the extent our decision may damage our brand and the results of the market research we carried out were invaluable to our eventual decision .This information empowered us and enabled us to control any negative perceptions.”
While OKC conducted their own market research on this issue via their website and an email and point of sale marketing campaign, they felt it was important that they got a broader understanding of consumer behaviour nationally. Consequently, a third party was brought in to conduct some independent research.
“The agency we used, took a wider approach and look at overall consumer behaviour and perception of our brand. Their findings were, on the whole, positive and the areas where they weren’t, allowed us to focus and take a strategic approach to improving them.”
Ultimately, it would seem that the advice is clear; always define your objectives, do as much of your own research as possible and only bring in a third party when you have a specific project for them to work on.
In the current climate budgets are tight and small businesses may be faced with the dilemma of wanting to grow but not having enough knowledge of their sector to know which path to take. In these circumstances, market research is vital and there are several low-cost options available.
According to Brothers, market research is one of the only marketing activities which can be carried out on an extremely low budget. “When we first formed the company money was tight, so we had to be creative. We held impromptu tasting events. This not only helped us develop a personal relationship with our consumers, it also allowed us to build our brand.”
“Online is also a unique and effective marketing platform for market research. Blogs and social media encourage conversation and allow you to have an open dialogue with people buying your products. This is an extremely powerful thing.”