You have a product idea that you're sure will be the Next Big Thing. But before you start spending your advertising dollars willy-nilly, you need to do market research to better understand the people who will buy your product. How can you best reach them through advertisements and marketing? How can you convince them that they need your product? A market survey can answer these questions and many more.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Market research and market surveys allow you to understand the habits, motivations and needs of those people that you want to buy your product or service.
Define Your Target Audience
Before you conduct a market survey, determine which market or target audience to survey in the first place. If you're not sure what your target audience looks like, the goal of your first market survey should be to establish exactly that. You have a product or service to sell, but aren't sure how to advertise it so that it gets in front of the right people. Does your target audience live in urban or rural areas? Are they men, women or both? Are they parents? Do they have pets? How old are they? How much money do they make annually?
Obviously, some questions are more relevant than others. But understanding your target audience allows you to reach them effectively and efficiently with your advertising and marketing campaigns. In the case of a product survey, it even helps you to understand whether your product is useful or desirable in the first place.
Set Goals for a Market Survey
Once you have a general sense of who might want to buy your product or service, your next mission is to determine how you can get them to make a purchase. To do this, find out more information about your target audience. A market survey can ask these questions directly or it can ask questions to gain information from which a conclusion can later be drawn.
For example, you might test product names by asking your target audience to rate the options on a scale of one to five. Or, you might ask when, if ever, your target audience plans to purchase a product like the one you're selling. You could also ask about pain points: What do people not like about similar products that they already own, for example? Why haven't they upgraded yet?
Another goal of a market survey could be to assess your competition. Which brands are already familiar to your target audience? Do they know about your brand? How loyal are they?
Avoid Pitfalls of Market Research
Unfortunately, market research is not foolproof. With all surveys, you're beholden to the people who actually choose to respond. Their answers may not give you an accurate picture of the entire target audience. For example, if you conduct a product survey on social media, for example, you may miss out on the answers of people who don't use those platforms or who simply don't use technology. If your product relies on technology, this makes sense; if not, you must distribute your product survey through other media as well.
Carefully crafted and conducted market research yields results that often prove meaningful. Although not perfect, market research is still better than nothing when it is performed to a high standard.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.