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The Role of Market Research in Business Success

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

The Role of Market Research in Business Success

Market research is your business detective, the Sherlock Holmes of your enterprise, unmasking customer behaviors, unwrapping market trends, pointing out your mistakes, and unveiling your competitors’ secrets.

This article consists of valuable nuggets of advice from various industry pros who have walked the talk. So, strap in because we’re about to supercharge your business with the power of expert advice!

1. Identifying a Gap in the Market

Before I launched Cannabiva, the results of our market research were the basis of the scale of our business. We did in-depth research on major cities in the USA. We needed to know the level of interest in the product and the competition we would face.

We could measure both metrics by performing a competitor analysis. We compared our projections to how well the competition was doing. We found that there was space for a CBD company that focused on the health benefits of CBD products and their environmental impact.

We launched in the California and Texas areas first. Using the market research we performed, we could create an effective marketing plan that attracted the ideal customer.

Without market research, we would have had to sell our products with trial and error and hope for the best. That’s no way to start a business.

Anders Blomqvist, co-founder of Cannabiva

2. Unusual Methods of Market Testing

These are the coolest ideas for market research.

Method 1:

If you have some followers on social media, conduct a free giveaway around the product you want to do market research on. The free product can be a useful e-book or a video guide.

If the giveaway goes semi-viral or viral, there’s a market for your product.

Another cool benefit of this method is that you can pitch your product by nurturing the warm audience you got from the giveaway in your email list.

If they took your giveaway, a portion of that audience is more likely to buy the paid product from you.

Method 2:

Also, if you have good Twitter followers, you can test the viability of your product by creating a highly valuable long-form tweet or thread around your product.

If the post gets reach, your product has a market value.

Pranav Nair, e-commerce SEO strategist at British D’sire

3. Anticipating Trends and Mitigating Risks

Doing your homework on the market is a must if you want your business to thrive. That research has been super valuable in understanding what customers want and where things are headed.

It’s helped us create products that perfectly meet people’s needs. Like when we figured out some pain points from surveying folks, then tweaked a service to make them happier — and snagged more business, too.

Market research also lets you see potential pitfalls ahead of time. You can make intelligent calls that avoid disasters by getting insight into trends and what competitors are up to. I led a project where we spotted a shift in what customers cared about. We pivoted our marketing approach right on time. Our campaign blew up after that.

Market research is more than just crunching numbers. It’s about getting intelligence to make the right strategic plays to lead to actual wins. You can use those insights, and they’ll pay off big time.

Tom Smith, marketing manager at Nirvana Super™

4. Strategic Crisis Simulation

Aside from allowing any business to understand customer needs and segment the audience, marketing research can also help with risk mitigation. In our business, we use market research to develop contingency plans and creatively pivot strategies in response to unforeseen challenges.

How we do that is by simulating crisis scenarios during strategic planning. Another strategy we use for risk mitigation is the customer feedback loop (market research helps here, too). We gamify feedback collection to incentivize customer participation and make it an enjoyable experience for all parties involved.

James Owen, co-founder and director of Click Intelligence

5. Outsmarting Competitors

You should use marketing research to study your rivals. It will show you what your chances of survival are and how saturated the market is. However, you also want to understand what’s working for them and what’s not — and use this info to stay on top.

In our case, there were hardly any providers who specialised in offering such a range of accredited qualifications to teaching professionals. We skipped the traditional route of offering qualifications with scheduled classes and seminars to attend or for unaccredited qualifications (designed in-house with no national/global recognition), as that would have meant a substantially higher level of rivalry for us.

The result — we’re now catering to more than 2,500 learners through our Britannia School of Academics.

Iqbal Ahmad, founder & CEO of Britannia School of Academics

6. Demographic Profiling

I’ve seen how market research can directly shape the trajectory of a business. I used scholarly databases like JSTOR or EBSCO to compile comprehensive market intelligence for clients so that they could tap into unexplored markets and grow their customer base significantly.

If you use digital encyclopedias and academic papers, you can draw a sophisticated demographic profile. It will allow you to tailor perfect products for whatever customers need. Market research is a must before implementation in order to avoid costly mistakes and increase the chances of success.

Dominic Zijlstra, founder of Adaptify

7. Unveiling Consumer Motivations

One of the keys to market research is its capacity to extract subtle consumer insights that inform strategic choices. One thing is, in my opinion, the strength of qualitative research. Beyond statistics, knowing why customers behave the way they do encourages innovation and allows products to be genuinely customized to meet needs.

Investing in comprehensive market research, particularly with qualitative techniques like focus groups and interviews, reveals unrealized potential. Although it may not be as visually striking as quantitative data, this focus on human-centric understanding is a powerful tool for product development, marketing, and, ultimately, long-term business success.

Mark Blakey, CEO & advertising manager of Autism Parenting Magazine

8. Targeting Audience and Competitors

In my experience, I have learnt that it is impossible to succeed in a market that you neither know nor understand. Especially as customer needs and marketing trends are constantly evolving. The truth is, to triumph in business, you have to understand your targets, and in my experience, I have learnt to target two separate but united groups; your audience and competitors. I have learnt that success depends on my ability to stay ahead and in sync with both these groups.

With market research, you triumph in business because you take advantage of the priceless opportunity of learning to avoid and improve upon the mistakes of your fellow competitors. This saves you time, money, and the cost of losing paying customers to unsatisfactory services. The fact is, your brand’s equity is positively influenced when you know the mistakes to avoid repeating. You learn the pain points of your target audience and how best to tailor your services/products to address their needs. And most importantly, it equips you to better target the right audience.

Samantha Miller, general manager at Express Dentist (Twitter)

9. Lean Business Model & Free Resources

Market research helps business owners drive engagement by becoming laser-focused, niching down, and connecting intentionally via the direct solution to the problem factor.

The LEAN canvas business model helps business owners design a framework that provides baseline market details.

Pinpointing the primary audience and building the persona helps the business identify who they are selling solutions to, which saves money and time, creates efficiency, and maximizes profits.

Free resources are available that many do not know about — census.gov has agents whose jobs are to provide market data based on your query or needs, and they will also train you on how to use the vast database to pinpoint market data — at no charge. LivePlan.com also offers market research tools inside its business plan writing app.

In some states (e.g., Texas), there is a Council of Government that receives state funding to conduct research, collect market and demographic data, and provide access to free reports. 

Operating without market research, data, and information is a recipe for disaster. It creates waste and opportunity for overspending on sales and marketing techniques that won’t yield results.

We helped an online ecommerce financial education company (www.budgetsandbaddies.com) go from $825,000 in sales to $2.1 million in 2023 just by diving into their sales data and customer segmentation. We cleaned up their website and improved communication with their primary audience by using market research and data to make business decisions. It works.

Cynthia Nevels, president of Integrality LLC

10. Strategic Financial Planning with Your Accountant

I’d say asking your accountant, “How can I optimize my business’s financial health and planning?” would be a good start.

Talk about managing cash flow, budgeting, and forecasting, and your accountant can offer custom strategies for boosting financial stability and growth.

Also, don’t forget to ask about any new regulations or financial opportunities that could affect your business. Having this ensures you and your accountant are on the same page when it comes to your business’s financial success.

Sam Romain, CEO of Hemponix

11. Understanding Seasonal Preferences

Market research is our compass at Flower Station, and it helps us bloom in a competitive landscape. When we used surveys and customer feedback to find out what were our customers’ seasonal floral preferences, we tailored our inventory. It led to a 20% boost in sales during peak seasons!

Researching emerging floral trends also led to us introducing unique arrangements and targeting niche markets, and our customer retention increased by 15%.

David Cohen, CEO of Flower Station

12. Comprehending the Audience’s Emotion

Marketing research goes beyond traditional data collection. I have to admit that understanding the audience’s emotions is revolutionary, and anticipating desires and pain points is just as important as understanding needs. Creative approaches — such as immersive storytelling or experiential research — show us patterns that lead to creating those approaches and capturing the essence of consumer sentiments.

Grace Morris, brand experience director at Hellotickets

13. Social Listening

I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 22 years ago, and market research is more important now than ever! Whatever we thought we knew or understood before COVID about our customers/market must now be checked because the world has changed so much since March ‘20.

Before you spend anything, conduct market research! When real customers are willing to pay real money for your product or service, you have a real business. You’d be remiss today if you did not consider/incorporate research into your plans.

Because we spend so much time on social media, it is becoming more important to listen to online conversations to derive sentiments. Social media is highly emotive, so there is more context on the source of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, and macro/micro trends. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and watch for short-term indicators around consumer research to help identify actionable opportunities early.

With limitations on in-person focus groups and other qualitative research methods due to the pandemic, having the ability to moderate video discussions while collecting data from a diverse audience is no longer limited by geographical boundaries, which is a huge advantage.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls

14. Audience Segmentation

Being a successful business owner myself, I understand how crucial market research is to the expansion and success of a company. Marketing research reveals demographic data. Through conducting surveys, you can better understand the characteristics of your buyers, like age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Economic and social data, such as work status, income, and education, can also be gathered.

These factors might assist you with audience segmentation, which is modifying your brand messaging to appeal to different audiences. In addition, one of the many ways marketing research gives businesses a competitive advantage is by increasing their understanding of the business. Your company can develop strategies to differentiate itself from the competition and stay ahead by learning what other companies are doing.

Harrison Tang, co-founder & CEO of Spokeo

15. Finding the Right Products to Sell

My five-figure reselling business relied completely on doing market research to find the right products to sell on eBay. To find a winning product to sell, a rising entrepreneur needs to become part of the community they hope to cater to. For example, recently, I sold a Tyler Herro trading card for over $100, but to source the product and know it would give a positive return, I had to learn about basketball, how trading cards are valued, and read different price predictions.

A new entrepreneur should use the Business Model Canvas or do another type of “sketch” of the value they are adding to the industry, and market research is essential to doing so. A business needs to 1. do something better than another, 2. provide something no one else does, or 3. do something cheaper than others. If not, a business will fail because it did not innovate. With this in mind, it’s much easier to have a profitable venture and do more business.

Alejandro González-Betancourt, student, entrepreneur & author of The Videogame Economy: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and its Collectible Investments

16. Taking Inspiration from Frustrations

A mentor I studied under briefly was constantly doing market research and considered everything he did to be market research. While waiting in an insanely long line at the airport for someone to simply print a piece of paper, he noticed he wasn’t the only person irritated at how long it was taking and spoke to others around him.

After that, he went home and designed the self-serve airport kiosk, which has taken off around the globe. Had he not paid close attention to his surroundings and looked at everything as market research, then found the opportunity in frustration, he wouldn’t have been the one to invent it.

Susannah Scheller, technical director of Grow Disrupt

17. Avoiding the Pitfalls of Guesswork

Every market is full of gotchas that only those seasoned in the vertical or industry truly know. People react viscerally (positive and negative) to things that you’d never be able to guess at. And when has guessing ever been a great strategy? You need to research the market for all of these gotchas. And that takes time. Those answers are not received from a simple Google search.

Christopher Falvey, co-founder of Unique NOLA Tours

18. Navigating Change

As a business owner, I’ve learned a thing or two about market research. It’s crucial, but you can’t get lost in it. The real deal with market research is that it’s ever-changing, just like consumer trends. Start by understanding the problem you want to solve — talk to people and get their input. But don’t stop there.

Test your solutions in the real world, see what sticks, and keep tweaking. This approach is a learning goldmine — you’ll quickly find out what works and what doesn’t. This is how you build your edge. Constantly refining your solution and knowing your market inside out — that’s what keeps you ahead and profitable.

Paul Chow, CEO of Design Dynamics

19. Harnessing Environmental Consciousness

My rival was doing well with the usual ads, but our research found a special group of millennials who care about the environment. So, we changed our plan and started sharing cool stuff on social media that users posted. We also talked about where our products come from. Turns out — these environmentally conscious millennials liked what we were doing.

Now, we’re right up there, competing strongly. It shows that understanding who likes your stuff and changing your plans a bit can make a big difference. Going after the right group helped us catch up and even change the game a bit.

Paul Eddison, content editor of Instant A.I. Prompt

20. Improving Keyword Optimization

As an e-commerce business, market research showed us the direction of how to structure and formulate our product pages. Our products primarily consist of high-quality equipment. However, market research and competitive analysis showed that this specific terminology was oversaturated within our niche.

Therefore, rather than marketing our products as high-quality, we focused on promoting them as affordable, accessible, and budget-friendly. Now, we found those ranking at a higher level for these keywords within SERPs.

Bill Joseph, founder & CEO of Frontier Blades

21. Assessing Demand and Competition

Nothing had a greater impact on my success than researching how much demand there was for something before I launched it. There are lots of tools that let you do this, including Junglescout for Amazon, Marketplace Insights for Udemy, Semrush for Google, and the Research tab in YouTube Studio.

These tools also let you see how much competition you face. Some even spoon-feed you opportunities where demand is high and supply is low, such as the content gaps section in YouTube Studio. What better recipe could there be for success than creating something with high demand and low competition?

Dekker Fraser, marketing teacher at Dekker Fraser

22. Search Engine Optimization

One of the big advantages of our business model is that market research is an ongoing process for us in two key ways.

The first is SEO. Our storefront is a website, and our performance is directly tied to our ability to stay near the top of Google search results. This requires us to carefully track what our competition is doing and how consumer preferences and search terms are shifting. We make changes based on shifts in SEO data on a monthly basis.

The second involves careful research into the consumer finance landscape. If SEO tells us what customers are looking for, this research is how we keep track of what products financial services companies are offering. When we can connect consumer demand to industry offerings, this is when we really succeed.

Ann Martin, director of operations of CreditDonkey

23. Unveiling Insights through Client Conversations

I’m no guru, but let me tell you what worked for us at Yoga Kawa. When we were just starting, I reached out to potential clients. I asked them about their everyday struggles and what they wished for in terms of wellness and to see if what we wanted to build at Yoga Kawa could actually make a difference for them.

These talks brought out insights I never would’ve thought of on my own. They helped shape what Yoga Kawa is today, making sure we’re not just another yoga studio but one that truly gets what people need. So yeah, talking to real people made all the difference for us.

Echo Wang, founder & CEO of Yoga Kawa (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube)


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The Role of Market Research in Business Success