How to Use Market Research: An Entrepreneur's Perspective

how_to_use_market_research_from_an_entrepreneurs_prospectiveEvery business needs to evolve. Otherwise, you'll find yourself running the best buggy whip business at the turn of the century. Growing revenue is not the only benchmark of a healthy business. A business can be healthy and heading down the right path until, well, it isn't. Phrases like innovator's dilemma, innovator's solution and accelerated disruption have hit the lexicon.

Borders Books made $101 million less than three years before losing $157 million. Blackberry (enough said), Sears, JC Penney, and even more recent high fliers like Zynga have simply misread the market and found themselves on a downward trajectory after experiencing substantial success previously.

So, how do you grow? What new products will attract the customers I want? What else can I sell to my current customers? Where are my new customers? New markets?  By definition, I don’t know anything about them, how do I learn?

When I talk about market research, people often confuse it with brokerage reports, information about the stock market. Those reports produced by a bank analyst or strategist are great if you’re looking to invest in a company, a stock, a currency or a commodity. But, that’s not what can help me, the entrepreneur with a non-public company. That’s not a way to drive new business and new products in my world.

In my corner of the business universe, and that of an entrepreneur trying to grow, a market research report is an industry study created by analysts steeped in that vertical. Whether you’re looking for a customer persona of the greek yogurt market or the in-vitro diagnostic market, there is a report out there that explains the world into which you are about to enter. Somebody who has worked or studied that vertical can combine both the quantitative research (numbers) with a qualitative (words/analysis) overlay to paint a picture of what the future will be like.

Truthfully, sometimes I need the data to back up the already insightful point I’m about to make to investors, and I need something to tell them the future will be as bright as I say it is. But, other times, I need to know where to start. Market research informs my decision about where an industry may be going, up or down. No one can predict the future, but there are trends and there is history.

Using the group knowledge of an expert and all the research at his or her finger-tips can set me in the right direction.

In the early days of my company, we produced a report on the kosher food market. And, while the metrics showed a soaring marketplace and interest in the product, it wasn't until you delved deeper into the analysis that a different answer appeared. While consumer interest was growing, it was a very expensive and difficult market to enter from a product creation perspective. Companies already in the market had a nice roadmap for attracting customers, but new entrants in the market were discouraged.

People rarely complain that the data in a report doesn’t back up their assertion. Sometimes, they do, but more often the number one complaint about a market research report is that it didn’t answer their question. So, at we have worked to help users get closer to the data with a number of things on our sites, some automated and some human. A user can search inside a report or use our Keyword in Context technology to learn more even before you press the “buy” button. On the non-technical side, we offer a phone call with our research specialists or customer service representatives who will open a report for you and help you determine if the answer to your most pressing business questions is buried inside.

But, enough on the sales pitch, the real goal of this entry is to let the world know that market research exists.  There have been dozens of times over the years when I have been explaining our business and they have screamed, "OHHHHH, I didn’t know that’s what market research did. I really could have used it…”

If you are looking to grow your business, find out the mindset of your customers or potential customers, look for new revenue streams, growth projections, potential competitors, then look inside the pages of a market research report and find the answers.

For more information on using market research as an entrepreneur, download our free white paper, How to Use Market Research to Launch Your Business.

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Rob Granader
CEO & Chairman

Topics: Market Research Strategy Emerging Markets