Have you just set up a new business? Maybe you already own a business but are looking for something to bring your enterprise to the next level? Gaining an edge over competitors is the ambition for every business – to stand out at the very top of your market. It can take years to gain a competitive advantage, the use of strategic planning and extensive research are key when attempting to veer your business in the right direction. Understanding the market you’re operating in is imperative – but how can this be done? The answer is through market research.
Diligent market research is a must for any business, without it your company immediately has a distinct disadvantage and will ultimately become another victim to the harsh corporate world. Market research provides a comprehensive overview of the entire market, the data collected from research will provide you with an in-depth analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in addition to analysis of competitors and customers.
By using market research you can gather information on the current operation of the market. This is especially important when looking at competitors in the market. Effective market research will provide an insight of how competitors are performing – what are they doing well? What areas are they lacking in? What could they do better? Are they missing out on a particular market demand? Answering these questions will help when attempting to position yourself in the market and help you find the edge that can extend your reach beyond that of your competitors. Market research can also help you answer important questions about the product/service you are offering and how well it sits in the consumer’s mind. By using methods like claims testing, you may be able to understand whether your product/service actually provides what the consumer expects from it or whether there are any gaps in meeting demands. I cannot stress how important it is to ensure research is an ongoing process, your competitors and the market are constantly changing, meaning the information gathered via research needs to continuously be amended.
This is especially important with the consumers, the majority of markets operate in a habitual fashion so it’s pivotal to keep up with the latest trends. Your target audience are essential when attempting to gain an edge, understanding the audience will greatly increase your advantage over competitors. But purely recognising the needs and wants of your audience is not enough – even if you have identified a need that is not currently met by the competition, you still need to determine whether your method of meeting this need is effective. Market Research can help establish if customers are responsive to good and services via the use of focus groups, surveys or trials designed to gauge the response.
Carrying out surveys is incredibly advantageous when judging consumer reaction. Surveys can be carried out in relation to a new product or service your company is launching or purely as a means of estimating interest in a new business idea. Surveys can be carried out through a variety of different approaches, however it is advisable to avoid mailing surveys as these tend to largely be ignored. Mobile technologies (smartphones and tablets) are an increasingly effective tool for surveys, they are inexpensive in cost and can often get a wide variety of responses. Decision Fuel are a market research company who specialise in using mobile technologies to generate fast online surveys and detailed reports designed for your needs.
Surveys are not the only way to gain an edge through researching the market, a SWOT analysis can be just as effective – especially when attempting to stand out among your competitors. A SWOT analysis examines the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities within your market, enabling your company to gain an insight into the inner-workings of the market and therefore providing you with the data needed to secure an edge for the business.
If you have understood this article and managed to apply it to your business, then you have just taken your first steps in gaining that all important market edge. It may take some time, but one day your business may be the one sitting at the top of the large, business mountain.