“Cheshire Puss,” she (Alice) began, “would you tell me which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends on where you want to get to” said the cat.
When starting a market research program, you must have an objective in sight. What do you want the research to accomplish? Such research can be designed to define sales and marketing performance, gather information to support product or promotion research, or even define distribution channels and price research.
Primary research might include personal interviews, telephone or mail surveys, internet surveys, and focus groups.
Secondary information sources might include published literature, trade associations, web sites, social media, regulatory filings, annual reports, business directories, and on-line databases, e.g. Lexis Nexus, Dun and Bradstreet, Edgar, and Information Access.
Once you have all of the information you need, you can compare one competitor to another. Knowing what a competitor is doing in the marketplace and how well he is doing it, can affect your future decision-making. It can also suggest what new products might do well, how you can improve present products, and new ways of promoting them. Market research can also provide you with an overview of a particular market, e.g., is it growing or declining, dynamic or static.
If used correctly and effectively, market research can help you create and sustain a competitive advantage. This can directly affect marketing, promotion, pricing, products, targeting of specific audiences, distribution, and types sales outlets to use.
It is a very powerful tool.