All triumphant business owners must know their markets, competitors, the customer wants and needs, and “what it takes to be competitive.” It is not sufficient to know the answers to what, where, when, and how questions about our businesses. We also need to know why people buy our products and services. You should imagine budgeting at least a minimal amount of time and money for research, particularly if you are starting a new business or branching out into a new direction.
Smaller companies can research secondary data sources and carry out individual interviews with key trade buyers and consumers or end users of their products and services (qualitative research). Regularly qualitative research can be accomplished for the free or little expense.
Smaller companies can also perform informal factor and cluster analysis by:
- Watching key competitors’ marketing efforts and copying them
- Talking to key trade buyers about new product prospect
- Accomplish needs analyses from qualitative research with individuals and groups
In many cases, smaller companies have access to the same databases as large companies for guess the sizes of market segment clusters and their significance. Some low-cost sources of external secondary data include:
- Trade and association publications and experts
- Basic research publications
- External measurement services (large market research firms include AC Nielsen, Burke, and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI))
- Government publications
Smaller companies can section markets by price, distribution, product life, geography, packaging, sizes, and other tangible factors in addition to demographics and lifestyle and psychographics group.
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