Market research provides an important understanding of your customers; their needs, issues, opinions about your company and your competitors. It is the road map for business strategy and as the landscape is always changing, especially in times of recession, it is important to undertake regular research, keeping your road map current.

In today’s very competitive environment, market research is an important tool which can help you identify critical differences and opportunities. Allowing you to becoming more responsive to customer needs and improve business efficiency, so differentiating you from your competitors and increase profitability.

As with commissioning any service, it is critical to invest plenty of time in developing a comprehensive brief to ensure you are getting the best from your budget. In this blog we outline the key items to consider when commissioning research.

What are you trying to figure out?

Be specific, don’t try to answer everything in one market research project. Research can cover a number of areas such as:

  • What people like or don’t like about your product and also your competitors product?
  • Research into a new product – is there demand, what will the reception be when launched?
  • What are the best channels of communication to use when reaching your target market?
  • Price – what are the perceptions about your product in relation to value for money?

Think about your objective, what are you trying to achieve?

  • A better understanding of your current customers or your potential customers, including influencers?
  • A better understanding of your competition?
  • An informed focus for your business activity and/or communications?
  • The Identification of new business opportunities?
  • To minimise the risk of doing business?
  • The provision of improved customer service?
  • To track progress and evaluate your success for your business or a particular product?

Spend time thinking about your objective and once you are clear about what you want to achieve detail it in your brief, more than likely as your opening paragraph. Your objective will also provide focus when writing the remainder of your brief, and should always be referred back to, to ensure you are on track.

Giving a good brief

Once you have clarified what you want to know you need to scope this out in a brief that gives clear direction. Using ‘who, what, why, where and when’ as a starting point is always a good way to ensure you are covering all the relevant details:

Who is this research for? Give information on your company and the division/product team the research is being conducted for. This background information should give greater understanding of who your company are and what they do, who your customers are and who your competitors are.

Who are to be contacted? Give details of the types of respondent you want to conduct the research with, are they existing customers or potential, what job role and industry segment are you interested in? Which geographical location do you want to target?

What is to be researched? Is it a particular product or target market? If it is a product then what does the product do, what are its features and benefits? What legislation influences its use? If it is a target market, then why are they key? Are you researching existing or potential customers?

Why are you conducting the research? Are you looking to get further insight, to gain information, to inform strategy?  Have you a new product you are looking to launch, or do you wish to get a better understanding of what influences selection of a current product, or indeed your brand? Are you looking to expand into new areas, whether these are services you offer or the geographical area you cover?

Where will the research be conducted and how? Which channels are you considering using: online surveys, telephone, face to face, focus group or a combination of all or some? Or perhaps you want to be guided by your researcher?

When will the research be conducted? What is your anticipated timeline, when do you anticipate the research to commence, have you a deadline for when it is to be completed by? If the research is to happen in stages will you require progress reports on these stages by key dates?

Other considerations are budget, if you are able to give an indication then this will help your researcher tailor your project and deliver results within monetary constraints.

Communication is key when agreeing the boundaries of the research project and although delivering a comprehensive brief is a great starting point remember to be open to suggestions, to get the best of the researcher’s knowledge, or indeed bring them in to discuss the preliminary brief, so they can bring their experience to the table and help you finalise arrangements.

What other considerations would you include when compiling a brief? Let us know by typing a comment in the reply box below.

Working with Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage has been conducting construction market research since 2000. Our marketing team have construction industry experience and are familiar with the industry’s language and practices.

Our commercial experience means that as well as reporting market research findings we are able to interpret these effectively and make sound business recommendations.

We aim to provide high quality information at an economic cost. Find out more

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