Most commonly, market research is viewed as a method to improve advertising and marketing initiatives and to develop products that are friendlier to specific markets. However, the true range of uses for market intelligence is much larger than most businesses think. The results of surveys and opinion polls can also be used to inform various company departments to support their diverse activities.
Moreover, advances in technology have brought about sophisticated do-it-yourself (DIY) research products, which means that businesses have more control over the costs, reach, and timing of research solutions. Those DIY offerings also deliver the advantage of instantaneous results that can be monitored in real time, offering a competitive edge when time is critically important.
The distinctive characteristics of DIY market research solutions give businesses an impressive ability to influence operations across multiple departments, especially in the following seven areas.
1. Language and Tone of Communications
In the many ways companies engage with their consumers, language plays a crucial role. Market intelligence can be especially useful in shaping the tone and content of marketing collateral and company communications to appeal to specific groups of consumers without being irrelevant or offensive.
Research can also help organizations working in highly sensitive capacities, such as hospices or charities for terminal illnesses. For example, gathering opinions from a panel of leukemia survivors can help the marketing department of a leukemia awareness organization to focus on the issues most important to patients and to employ appropriately sensitive, supportive, and inspiring language in its communications.
2. Media Buying and Placement
Market intelligence can be used to discover the best arenas in which to disseminate messaging and launch marketing campaigns. Insights into the minds and media habits of consumers can help create a strategy using the most appropriate venues for marketing, public relations, social media, search engine optimization, and other campaigns.
Also, when businesses move into unfamiliar territories, market research can play a vital role in determining the best approach. Surveys could be conducted to learn more about the consumers in this new market. Do they use social media sites or news sites more often? Do traditional print publications still outperform those online? Is one social network more popular than another? The results of such reports could then assist in choosing the best strategy for media buys, article placement, social media content, and so on.
3. Crisis Management
Being able to access immediate results and observe reactions can be critical to proper crisis-response activities. Whether a business is coming to terms with a sudden drop in public opinion, grappling with an event that hurts consumer confidence, facing something that causes a publicity catastrophe, or responding to a natural disaster, the advanced capabilities of DIY research solutions allow for swift deployment of online surveys, improving a company's image while providing information vital to the formation of the most appropriate response.
Although such application of market insight might not be commonly employed, they can be as valuable as the traditional uses for market research (such as others in this list of seven uses) and should definitely be taken into account.
4. Advertising Campaigns
Market research has traditionally been used to help agencies craft targeted messages in their advertising programs to ensure they are appealing to the right demographics.
Although the subjective nature of advertorial response is hard to measure, surveys and opinion panels have long been used effectively to pinpoint the specific aspects of a product or campaign that will resonate most with consumers.
5. Product Development
Another traditional use for research panels and target audience surveys, product development can be greatly enhanced via market investigation and input from key demographics.
Learning what the consumer believes, needs, and wants can help to create tailored products that satisfy demand. Conversely, maintaining a conversation with current users of a certain product via a managed research panel can help a company become aware of any issues that need improvement or product aspects that should not be altered during product upgrades.
For example, a car manufacturer wishing to update a popular model could deploy surveys to current fans of the car to gauge their opinions on various aspects. Perhaps most people think the car is visually appealing but they are frustrated by the way it handles. Those results could feed into the development process to ensure that the new model will perform well without alienating anyone.
6. Brand Perceptions
Brand outreach, too, has often drawn upon market research to inform strategies. Businesses can conduct investigations into the marketplace to determine which aspects of their brands are being properly communicated. In this way, they can avoid wasting time and money emphasizing brand characteristics that are already common knowledge.
On the other hand, examining a target audience's opinions of a brand can reveal areas for improvement. For example, a luxury brand might discover that consumers affiliate its products with convenience rather than indulgence, highlighting an area of current brand messaging that possibly needs altering.
7. Service Improvements
Surveys have often been use to gauge whether consumers are satisfied with a company's services. Now, technologies moreover enable companies to create their own consumer communities, forming a direct and constant source of feedback.
For example, a business could post information and a link on its website for consumers to join its research community. Those who sign up and participate in such a forum can form a valuable source of information for monitoring service performance. Moreover, owning a research panel can extend other customer service areas to enhance overall response to consumer needs.
(Image courtesy of Bigstock: Hand pressing pie chart button)
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