5 Common Market Research Mistakes to Avoid

Companies have come to rely on market research to gain insight on customer attitudes and behavior, with the ultimate goal of improving the bottom line. However, making sense of all that researched data is just as important as collating quality information. You need to interpret it thoughtfully and view it from an objective lens to enable you to make business decisions that will have a positive impact on your company profits.

Before you distribute your survey questions to customers or make arrangements for a focus group discussion, it’s worthwhile to first be familiar with the common stumbling blocks that most businesses encounter. These aren’t the exclusive domain of small businesses. Even big corporations like Coca-Cola have committed marketing errors that cost them millions in lost profits.

We’ve gathered a few of the most common mistakes committed by many marketing research initiatives, made even by those with deep pockets and widespread popularity. Take note of these and avoid them at all cost.

  1. Not knowing the relevant variables before conducting your research

If you were Coca-Cola drinker back in the mid-eighties, you probably remember the newer, sweeter version that was supposed to replace the original coke formula. The New Coke, as it was called in 1986, was a resounding failure. People clamored for the return of the “classic coke” and refused to give up the taste they’ve come to associate with the brand.

It was the result of a marketing research experiment gone wrong. A focus group was made to taste unmarked samples of coke and was made to choose between the original version and the new one. Majority preferred the sweeter formula, and with that, the fate of classic coke was sealed: out with the old, in with the new. But not for long.

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Analysts point out that two factors were overlooked in making sense of the taste test result: one, tasters were not asked whether they were willing to give up classic coke for the new one, and two, those in charge of the study underestimated the emotional attachment coke drinkers had with the original formulation.

This underscores the importance of knowing which variables will affect the decisions made based on the results of your research efforts. And this also explains why classic coke is still around.

  1. Committing confirmation bias

We all have our own sets of opinions and deeply held beliefs; it’s human nature. That said, it’s important to be aware of our tendency to commit confirmation bias, which means that we are inclined to interpret data based on what we already believe in ourselves. When interpreting market research data from surveys, focus groups, or client feedback, be wary of this bias and take an arm’s length approach to analyzing the information you’ve gathered. Take the extra step of asking more questions or finding alternate ways of making sense of the data. Don’t make assumptions. Doing so will give you a more accurate interpretation of your research.

  1. Not knowing exactly what information you’re looking for before you begin

Don’t dive headlong into a full-fledge marketing research program without first having a clear picture of what data sets you want to acquire from your customers. In our quest to discover some nugget of information that will prove to be the elusive answer to our most perplexing questions, we sometimes launch a focus group discussion in the hopes finding out whatever we can from our efforts. Be specific, ask probing questions. Do you want to know exactly what your customers need from your business? Do you want to find out what customers are willing to shell out for your product? It’s also important to make sure you’re targeting the right people, not just any person who’s interested to answer survey questions.

  1. Not using the appropriate reference materials or data sources

Consider the source of the information you’re getting. The Internet is a wonderful tool to find reference materials, but there’s a slim chance that you’ll find in-depth papers from the first line that comes up with a casual Google search. You might need to spend a lot of time or get the services of research companies to get quality research materials. If you’re inclined to do the research yourself, go to a library, find a business center or gain access to a college or any reputable place where you can gain access to the data you need.

  1. Not knowing your competition well enough

You probably know the names of the companies within your industry, but do you know what makes them tick? Are you familiar with how they come up with their price points, how they conduct business, the reasons behind certain decisions that have made an impact in the industry? Know as much as you can about those who are swimming in the same waters as you are, including their strengths and weaknesses. Businesses that are similar to yours will most likely have the same problems that you’re encountering, so it helps to find out how they deal with the same issues you’re dealing with.

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Market research is an invaluable tool that will help you understand both your customers and competition thoroughly. If used properly, you’re well on your way to using the data you’ve gathered to gain a solid foothold in your industry and stay well ahead of the curve.

Culled from Infinitdatum

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