Market research is a necessary component for success, whether coming up with the initial plan, analysing market trends in advance of new product development, and even retroactively analysing brand failure, it helps to justify the feasibility of business.
Nonetheless, despite its pervasiveness in the entrepreneurial world, market research is not a simple or straightforward process. Every year, thousands of new entrepreneurs make basic mistakes that undermine the effectiveness of their research and, as a result, jeopardise their company’s chances of success.
1. Low Quality Sampling.
Your entire analysis could be flawed if you ask the wrong people to answer your questions. When you have poor sampling, bad question does not immediately appear. As a result, this is the most critical error to avoid. Always define your sample at the beginning. Make a list of who you want to talk to and why. Define the rules, which will determine who is in the audience. Then consider whether your audience should be divided into sub-groups for additional analysis or cross-comparison.
Make it clear what kind of quality you expect from your sample. This is becoming increasingly important as the rise of access panels has meant that it is no longer often questioned whether or not they have professional respondents. This applies both to qualitative and quantitative research and to the recruitment of specialists.
2. Obscure Questions.
If your question is not precise, implies bias, or has a hazy meaning, your analysis will be open to interpretation, and your findings may be resisted in the organisation. In the worst-case scenario is that this data is used to make incorrect decisions.
‘How concerned are you about each of the following?’ This may appear to be a reasonable response at first glance, but ‘concern’ is a broad term that encompasses everything from worried emotions to simple awareness. For example, to one person, the phrase “I’m concerned about traffic” may mean “I’m concerned because it’s a problem that makes my journeys longer,” while to another, it may mean “I’m interested in learning more about traffic.”
The answer blocks of multiple choice selection are frequently ambiguous. It is very easy to write answer options from your own point of view while overlooking some critical ones that respondents may consider. This ambiguity skews your analysis and skews the results. Take the time to ensure that ambiguity in the wording of answer options does not result in some of them overlapping and confusing your respondents. For example, ‘I chose it because the price was reasonable’ or ‘the total cost seemed reasonable to me’ appear to be good choices to provide people and things with. However, there will be a debate about what prices are actually reasonable when it comes to analysis.
3. Cheap Incentives.
Incentives are best viewed as a form of compensation for someone sacrificing their time. People are busy, and research requires them to give up some of their time in order to assist us with our work. Yes, they are motivated by their interest in a topic or by helping us to improve, but these should not be used as justifications for not respecting a person’s time. We are not trying to influence or skew the research with incentives, so they should not be harshly low or excessively high; it is about being fair and reciprocal. They give us time, and we compensate them for it.
There is a lot of talk at conferences about low response rates and low engagement in research, but we often complicate the issue. One of the primary reasons for a study’s low response rate is that it unfairly values a person’s time. If you pay fairly, you will get better quality research and higher response rates.
4. Heavy-Handed Moderation.
Conducting excellent qualitative research necessitates the right balance of questioning – be open but not too invasive, or you risk suffocating the discussion. Too many quick-fire short questions can turn people off before they even begin to open up. Practice active listening as much as possible, and before asking a follow-up question, confirm and reassure that you have understood their point. Make sure the questions are written in a language that your participants will understand, and that they are as focused on the topics that they are interested in as possible.
The best moderators will get the answers needed for the topic, but they may do so in a different structure than the one intended at the start; simply because they listened, allowed the discussion to evolve, and occasionally guided it back on track if it strayed too far from the path.
Moderation is more than just asking the questions that stakeholders want to know. The goal of qualitative research is not to create a survey with routing logic and verbatim responses. It is intended to be a discussion that seeks to comprehend and decipher the issues and solutions.
5. Lack of online creativity
Your customers spend so much of their time online or on their mobile devices, but researchers are still lagging in this field. If this is where customers are satisfied, then we need to be talking to them in this area (especially if we want to make research engaging, convenient and interesting for them). Even now, much online research is limited to survey collection and the occasional structured question board.
There is so much more we can do online to make it more interesting while also learning more. However, the most common mistake we make online is relying on question boards that are more akin to surveys. They are programmed with routing logic, seek individual verbatim responses, and lack group interaction and personal moderation. Researchers would be shocked if we used the same approach in a face-to-face focus group. It’s past time we stopped making this mistake and treated online research with the same reverence and imagination we do traditional research.
6. Rely on Family Focus Group
A common mistake made by new businesses is to solicit feedback on their products and services from those close to them. Those who know you will want to keep your emotions to themselves. Friends and family are the worst possible focus group candidates. You need to talk to real customers about the benefits and drawbacks of your offer, and you should rely on your friends and family for advice rather than market research.
7. Ambiguous Reports.
Avoid ambiguous reporting. Ensure that all findings are supported by clear evidence. Make your points as concisely as possible, avoiding words like ‘some,’ ’might,’ and ‘may.’ Be specific about who your discovery pertains to, what it means, and what action can be taken. If action is to be taken, precision is required. Don’t exaggerate your findings, either. If you do, you may receive the haziest report of all.
Finally, don’t cram your report with so much information that it becomes difficult to follow or comprehend. This is frequently what people mean when they talk about story-telling or creating a narrative. It is the difference between selecting 50 facts that follow on from each other and are ordered to build on each other rather than 50 slides of charts. Use evidence, but don’t sabotage the project by charting everything. If a client requests it, design a structure that includes a summary and an appendix.
9. Hit the Wall
Any significant research project will encounter the U-shaped curve. Your enthusiasm and motivation are high at first, but as the project progresses, you hit a snag. The level of complexity increases as you begin to take in more information. It’s easy to lose motivation and cut research efforts short at this point. Those who persevere quickly realise that it all comes together in the end. To best manage your project’s motivation cycle, begin your secondary market research by learning about your industry. Don’t put off going out into the field and talking to potential customers for too long.
There are numerous approaches to do market research, and anything that leads to a better understanding of your target demographics can benefit your organisation. On the other hand, mistakes like these, can lead to inaccurate conclusions or waste your time and money in the pursuit.