Market research: identify your market

Use market research to identify the market for your company. Market research tells you how to be different from the competition, who your potential customers are and how to bring customers to your business.

Market research shows whether your plans are feasible. It is the basis for your marketing plan.

Do it yourself or outsource it?

You can get started with your market research yourself by doing desk research. Or by presenting your idea to potential customers and suppliers through field research in a qualitative or quantitative study. With desk research you use existing information. For example, information that you find online. With qualitative research you thoroughly question a limited number of people. They then respond with substantive and detailed answers. In a quantitative survey, the group of respondents is larger. You collect data, usually in the form of figures. You can then arrange this data and relate it to each other. You can approach respondents for example by telephone or via an online survey.

You can also outsource your market research to students or a market research company. For example, hire a student (in Dutch) from a university of applied sciences for an internship or graduation assignment lasting several weeks or months. He will do this job for you and will acquire new knowledge and refreshing ideas for you. This takes time, because you have to supervise a student. The costs of a research agency are higher than hiring a student but an agency often has experience and sometimes also specialises in certain markets and research methods.

How do you perform market research?

Market research consists of a number of researches and analyses that are interrelated. The total shows how you can conquer the market with your company.
  • Identify the developments within the sector in which you operate, by means of an industry analysis. This will give you insight into the feasibility of your idea.
  • Gather information about your main competitors so you can distinguish yourself. Perform a competitor analysis.
  • Analyse your potential customers through a customer survey. This provides insight into who your customers are and what their buying behaviour is. With this data you determine how, where and when you approach your customers.
  • Identify opportunities and threats around your company through an environmental analysis (in Dutch). Then you know how ideal the conditions are for your company.
  • Research the experiences and wishes of your existing customers on the basis of a customer satisfaction survey. This way you know whether you can optimize your product or service. After all, happy customers generate new customers.
  • Research how your potential target group sees your company and check if this corresponds to the desired image of your company.

5 tips

  1. Do you work with questionnaires for some of the research? Think about what you want to know in advance and adjust your questions accordingly. What is the (marketing) problem you want to solve? What opportunity do you want to explore?
  2. An (online) survey is a popular form of market research. Carefully consider whether this is the right research method for you. Qualitative research is often more valuable. For example, during an interview you can more easily ask follow-up questions.
  3. In an interview it is difficult to remain objective. You quickly ask questions through 'coloured glasses'. Be aware of this. An alternative is to have someone else do the interview who is not or less involved in your plan.
  4. Don't ask too many questions. Arrange questions into a logical whole.
  5. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Location scan (in Dutch) helps you determine the location for your company. Take the scan and find out where customers and competitors are.

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