Market research and market reports

Five tips for effective market research

Guide

A business that understands its customers and their buying habits can sell more effectively. They can compete better with other suppliers. Understanding the market helps you target new customers and identify new opportunities. Follow these five tips for better market research.

1. Identify the information you need - Understanding market trends is important if your business is to make the most of its opportunities. Keeping on top of trends helps you remain competitive. You also need to understand your competitors and be aware of what they are doing to predict their next moves and exploit any weaknesses. See understand your customers' needs and understand your competitors.

2. Use market reports and other data - Support is available from a range of sources. For example, Invest NI's Business Information Centre offers free access to extensive market research. They use company databases and worldwide market reports.

3. Use field research - Popular methods of field research include surveys, interviews and direct observation. The way that you conduct your field research will have a big impact on the quality of the results. Ask the right questions, talk to the right people, talk to enough people and keep research impartial. See difference between qualitative and quantitative research.

4. Interpret the information - Be careful how you interpret market information. External data might not be in a format that's easy to use. It may have been collected for other purposes. It could be from a range that doesn't tally with your target market. Also beware of out-of-date market information. See three market research pitfalls to avoid.

5. Consider using a market research agency - If you don't have the time or skills to carry out research yourself, consider using a market research agency. This is an option if you have budget available. Always provide the agency with a thorough and clear brief. You should include the project's business objectives, what the research should uncover, and details on how you will use the results. See should I use a market research agency?