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Doing Your Own Market Research? Avoid These Three Common Mistakes

Mehdi  Boursin Profile Picture
Mehdi Boursin Bio
Mark Strobel Profile Picture
Mark Strobel Bio

Picture this: you and your team have a brilliant idea.

Maybe you’ve thought of a product that could expand your company’s portfolio and customer base. Maybe you think there’s whitespace to capture in a potential market. Maybe you see an opportunity to sell through a new channel.

No matter how great an idea, you’ll have to create a proof of concept to get buy-in, budget and resources.

That’s why market research is a must. With the right data and insights, you can quantify consumer demand and size an opportunity to guide your strategic planning and investments. The keyword, though, is “right.”

If you’ve been tasked with conducting market research for your team, consider these common mistakes before getting started.

1. An underlying bias undermines the process

Let’s say you’ve been working on concepts for a new product alongside your team for the past six months. Now, you have to decide which to launch.

So, you organise the market research. You choose the audience type, the sample size and how to calculate the market potential.

In this scenario, there is a clear conflict of interest. Whether realised or not, you’ll likely search for evidence or set parameters that are skewed towards your desired outcomes or assumptions. And the subsequent decisions made based on this information might be the wrong ones for your business.

We all have our own preferences, interests and agendas. But market research must be as objective as possible to be effective.

2. Not enough, not right or not reliable

Information is everywhere, so there are two important factors to keep in mind when looking for data.

First, knowing which data points will paint a full picture.

Only looking at sales growth over the past year, for example, could be a great starting point but won’t be indicative of patterns or trends. A strategic market assessment dives deeper into competitive, consumer and distribution landscapes as well as macroeconomic scenarios.

Second, ensuring those data points are from reliable sources or that your primary research will allow you to draw accurate conclusions.

You may find the perfect data point, but ask yourself:

  • Is that source credible?
  • What methodology was used to arrive at that figure?
  • What inputs are being tracked?
  • Is the research scope consistent across markets in order to draw true comparisons?

If you’re conducting your own study, don’t forget about bias.

  • Will your methodology or survey fairly represent the market?
  • Are you using the correct sample size?

You want to avoid making a generalisation based off too little (or wrong) information.

3. Misinterpretation can mislead

Making sense of data is crucial but not as simple as it may seem. Remember: there are often other variables like macroeconomic, socioeconomic, demographic or behavioural indicators that should be taken into account.

If you’re using different sources, there could be discrepancies based on varying methodologies. And you may end up with more questions than answers.  

Plus, even if you understand the data, that doesn’t mean your decision makers will.

You need to be able to translate and communicate those findings in a way that resonates with stakeholders.

Don’t cut corners

What do a kitchen renovation and market research have in common? Both can be DIY projects.

But first, you should assess the scope and tasks alongside your skills, resources and time to determine whether you go the DIY route or use a professional. Market research is no different.

Budget tends to be the top reason companies conduct their own market research. An in-house method can be effective, but it doesn’t have to be an either-or approach.

A strategic partner can save time and resources; fill knowledge gaps; provide impartial assessments; deliver high-quality results; and advise your planning; among other advantages.

There are a range of market research solutions that can be tailored to your needs. Reports are one option to get up to speed quickly. You can also reach out to one of our consultants to see how we can work with you.   

The three mistakes outlined in this article happen more often than you think. To be effective, market research should be conducted and analysed objectively and accurately.

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