One of the most important areas of marketing strategy is market research that consists in organized efforts in order to collect information about the target market or customers.
Defined by the ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research, market research is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals or organizations using statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social sciences to gain insight or support decision making.
Market research analyses the way people act towards the company's product what they think, need, want in order to use the results for better marketing of the product.
The most important instrument used for contact with the market is the market survey.
The market survey consists in a systematic accumulation, recording, analysis and interpretation of data related to an existing or potential market for a product or services.
Using this instrument, the company collects various information about different areas of the business. The main aspects to be studied are: buying habits and motives, pattern of demand, size of market and past and present trends.
A survey may be concerned in the target market of the customers, for example in their age, purchasing power and other demographic, psychological and economic aspects, as well as a geographic placement of the business for accessibility of the product, customers' availability, or competition. A market survey can provide essential information for the production decisions that could answer questions like "which product should be produced?", "What is the production capacity?", "What price should we use?".
There are five important steps in conducting a market survey.
Define the objectives. Before heading to an actual questionnaire, the marketing team should conceive an action plan focused on the information to be gathered, the sources of information, the resources to be invested(such as money, time, ), the methodology.
Select the variables. For the information to be accurate, the survey should be conducted in places relevant for the target market. The time schedule is also important. Other demographic or economic features of the customers should be considered as they might affect the accuracy of the results.
The questionnaire. It could be conducted in person, by e-mail, by regular mail or by phone. The questionnaire should contain a standard set of questions, with a simple form, using multiple-choice or yes/no questions. It should also be easy to read, with editing details that give the page an airy aspect. The respondents should have enough time to answer, not be rushed or influenced in the decision they make.
Collect data and analyze the results. The questionnaire should be prepared so that the answers can be centralized and transferred to a computer. The results can be analyzed using statistics or specific software for each marketing problem approached.
The report. Grounded on the results of the analysis of the information, a report should be prepared. It should contain directions for the planning activity and reliable information the decisions should be based on.
Conducting a market survey is essential in initializing and monitoring a business. Analyzing the results of a market research can minimize the marketing risks in conditions of uncertainty and control the variables used in conceiving a marketing plan. It helps avoiding problems like difficulties in sales, low profit, lack of demand on the market.
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