When a company grows larger, then any changes they make affect the customers. Thus, if a company wants to keep their customers happy, they need to involve the customers whenever they want to make changes. At such times, the company can conduct a market survey.
Even companies which are small and have just launched their products, need to conduct market surveys to find out the feasibility of their products in the market and how successful it would be with the target market.
There can be many reasons to conduct a market survey
- You are starting a new product and you want to estimate demand.
- You are changing an existing product and you want to find out acceptance in the market for this changed product
- You want to find out competitor’s market and what are the features which make the competitor’s product a hit.
- You want to find out the most effective distribution channel out of the various channels that you are using.
So how can you conduct a market survey? We lay out 9 simple steps to do the same.
1) What is the objective of the Market survey?
As discussed above, there can be many objectives of conducting a market survey. The objective might be for the brand to determine its equity and positioning in the market. The survey might be conducted to find out additional features for the product and the features which are most preferred by the customers.
Determining the objective of the market survey is as important as conducting the market research itself. You might be spending days to conduct the market research survey and you might be spending a good amount on it too. It can be very frustrating if the research study does not meet your objectives. So be creative – and the first step is to determine the objectives of the study.
Tip: There is nothing wrong with conducting 2 different research studies at once. Example –You can conduct a study on the features which are most in demand for a product and at the same time, you can also conduct which product the customers prefer in the market. This gives you an idea of the features you need to focus on and also gives an idea of who your strongest competitor is.
2) What is your target market?
Once the objective of the market survey is known, you need to decide WHO to conduct this market survey on. If I wanted to know whether I can sell jewelry in online stores and will people buy, I cannot conduct this survey offline or in retail stores. I need to go online and ask the already existing online crowd whether they will buy jewelry. Or I need to conduct a test market study to find out the actual potential.
So, if you have the right objective in mind, but the survey is conducted with the wrong audience, the results will probably be skewed, and you will not get the right results in your hands. This can affect your brand because you probably misunderstood what customers want and you are going to spend months launching something which customers did not desire in the first place.
Example – In March 2016, Playboy conducted a survey and decided that the magazine was not safe for work. So it launched magazines which were non-nude and it also launched an app which was safe for work. Both the magazine and the app failed because playboy’s major target customers were the ones who preferred.. ahem.. nudes! So did playboy look at the wrong target market? It probably did, and it cost them a bomb!
3) How will you collect the information?
There are many different types of Market research. For example – There is observational research, quantitative market research, qualitative market research etc. To know more about it, read this article on all the different types of Market research.
Bottomline is – You need to decide on how you are going to collect the information. If you are going to collect mall shopping examples or decision making while being a silent observer, then even a CCTV observation might do which is conducted with observational research.
Or you may want to conduct a market survey and gain further insight by interacting with customers. At such times, focus groups, or market survey questionnaires are found to be most useful. In a majority of studies, market survey questionnaires are used to interview with customers and find out their answers which become the raw data. This data is trusted the most.
Tip: Depending on the objectives of the research and the resources you have, decide on the process of information collection. You can read the article on Sampling plan to determine which sample you are going to target.
4) Preparing the market survey questionnaire.
This is a major step because this is the point of interaction between your company and the customer. The market survey questionnaire is the point where you need to spend maximum time. The next steps are all dependent on the market survey questionnaire.
A wrong or useless question in this step becomes a problem or a missed opportunity later on during the analysis stage. At the same time, the questions you ask should be data-centric so that you can analyze the data later and the data is useful to you.
We have written a separate article on the 12 types of market research questions you can ask your customers. But here are some tips for preparing a market survey questionnaire.
- Use simple questions– This will keep the respondent clear in his mind and he will give quick answers – giving further insight into his mind.
- Use a professional– Wherever possible, use a professional to make market survey questionnaires. There are sites like Survey monkey which will help you with the same.
- Mix open-ended with close-ended questions– Let the respondents creativity flow. Don’t just ask close-ended questions with definite answers. Open-ended questions can give ideas to your brand as well as give further insight into the customers’ mind.
- Be focused– Do not let the focus be lost by using complicated questions or questions with negative or hypothetical concepts in them. Be clear and precise as the customer will then start to give answers just to get over with the questionnaire.
- Objectivize– Each question should have an objective which it answers. No question should be just for the sake of asking. Objectives can also be answered by combining 2 or 3 questions.
Online alternatives to physical Market survey questionnaires
- Online polls on websites and forums
- Google forms
- Survey Monkey
5) Conducting the actual on-field survey
Once you are ready for the market survey questionnaire, the next step is conducting the on field survey and gathering the information. This looks like a simple step but might be complicated if the desired results are not obtained. It is necessary to keep an eye on this step and tweak any changes in the market survey questionnaire if needed.
Conducting the on field survey takes time and patience. The Validity of data and completing the questionnaires are important. Once the field survey is conducted, the data can then be taken forward to the next step.
6) Analyzing the information
Once the field survey has been done, the analysis is very important. There are many feedbacks which will be received by customers especially when open-ended questions have been asked. Making a summary of these answers and analyzing the research can help companies have a successful result from the market survey.
There are both – Qualitative and quantitative methods available to analyze information collected with market surveys. Examples include
- Multiple Regression
- Discriminant analysis
- Factor analysis
- Cluster analysis
- Conjoint analysis
- Multidimensional scaling
Using any of the above methods, you can do the analysis of the data and then analyze the findings. This will help you come out with solutions to your research problems which can then be tested in live market conditions for their viability.
It is necessary that after analyzing the information, a Plan A and Plan B be formulated for moving forward. This is because even market survey data can sometimes be wrong or misleading. So it is always better to have a backup plan in case the main analysis fails.
7) Test Marketing
Test marketing is necessary to determine the viability of the plan which has been finalized after conducting the market survey. Example – Your market survey suggests a feature added to the core product which you have now done as a prototype. Instead of launching the prototype to the complete market, it is better suggested to do a test marketing with your preferred clients.
You can launch the prototype to a small market, check its performance and then proceed to launch it across multiple locations. In the first location itself, you will get to know whether customers are comfortable with the prototype or not. If they are not comfortable, you can anytime move to plan B which you may have devised.
8) Implement and repeat
The final step of conducting a market survey is the implement the findings on a large scale. If in test marketing, the results are positive, you can then implement across the complete market.
Furthermore, a large brand generally keeps a target to conduct market survey repeatedly so that they can stay updated with the trend and keep finding insights of what the market wants from them.
Overall, the above were the 8 steps to conduct a market survey in the most effective manner. These steps can help you come up with insights into the customers’ mind as well as steps which can be taken to improve your market position.