Using research to support decision making may sound appealing in theory, but how do companies actually use market research in practice? What are the common approaches?
As described in our newly released white paper, MarketResearch.com conducted dozens of in-depth phone interviews with corporate clients in different roles — including product managers, insight analysts, marketing directors, and category and portfolio leaders — at Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries.
During these interviews, we asked open-ended questions to better understand the role of market research at these companies. Across different industries and types of companies, our client’s feedback repeatedly underscored the importance of market research for validating insights and supporting decision making.
Here’s a summary of how the companies we interviewed use market research to get a reality check. Carry out these five strategies in your own organization to help mitigate risks and facilitate decision making.
1. Gather points of comparison.
Compare how different researchers define and segment a market. Contrast internal and external estimates for market size, market growth, and market share to arrive at the most accurate conclusions. Combining multiple points of view, rather than relying on one, can help overcome knowledge gaps, misinformation, and systemic biases.
2. Deepen your knowledge of the market.
Validate numbers and understand the “why” behind the data. Where is the market going? What are the major market trends, drivers, and inhibitors to growth? What technologies or materials are gaining traction? Are there adjacent opportunities to pursue?
3. Assess the competitive landscape.
Get different points of view to better understand your company’s position. How do you stack up against the market? Who are the key players, and who are your biggest competitors? What companies are disrupting the market? Market research can also provide information on private companies that is otherwise difficult to gather.
4. Fill in gaps of consumer knowledge.
Explore new products and categories and how consumers are using them. Create a story about consumer trends and quantify opportunities. Understand how consumer habits and motivations are changing. Evaluate the role of technology in influencing consumer behavior.
5. Disseminate insights across the organization.
Use market research as a means to educate employees at different levels of the company. Incorporate the information into sales meeting presentations, marketing and new product development initiatives, executive reviews, and strategic-planning sessions.
As the clients we interviewed put it, third-party research shows you “how the marketplace is being perceived” and provides an “inside track on what’s happening.” When making important business decisions, market research is sometimes “the deciding factor on whether to green light or hit the kill switch.”
Interested to learn more? Download MarketResearch.com's free white paper for more practical insights and recommendations.
About the Author: Sarah Schmidt is a Managing Editor at MarketResearch.com, a leading provider of global market intelligence products and services.