How to Make the Most of What You’ve Got
Diminishing budgets, shrinking or completely cut market research departments, and overall tightening-of-the-belt at many companies have necessitated some unconventional thinking when their bottom lines can’t support full-fledged studies.
With just a little digging around, taking a new look at existing data, can potentially provide a wealth of understanding.
Customer Lists and Purchase History
If an organization is looking to expand to new markets, greater penetration in a current market, or to develop more “customers” than one-time-purchasers, the customer list and history can be a great source of insight. It may seem illogical – “I’m trying to reach new people, and they must be different than the ones with whom I’m already working” – but research with current and/or past customers can successfully guide efforts to grow business. The research can lead to indispensable understanding of market segments, important insights about purchasing behavior and needs, and also information regarding use and evaluation of competitors. Plus, the targeted respondents are identified and have a means of contact – two key elements that drastically reduce project costs.
You may discover that another department has conducted some form of interview with customers that can now be effectively re-purposed as in-depth interviews, perhaps to guide a subsequent quantitative phase of research. If audio samples or transcripts exist, they can be analyzed qualitatively for market research insight, even if that was not the original intent. This could allow for an initial phase of research that may otherwise have not been possible because the expense will be significantly reduced – analysis for this phase will be the only charge incurred.
Past Market Research Data
Access to a series of data, from tracking studies or other regular research, can prove to be a critical key to uncovering new insights or making cost-saving changes to the research method. The arsenal of information can be analyzed to gain perspective on trends over times, the effects of significant events like the recession on behavior, or the effects of organizational changes on satisfaction and loyalty. The survey or interview design may also be tested. This could result in recommended changes to shorten the interview process or survey without losing information and ways to get better information from respondents within the same budget. In one such case, we found that a company’s small clients were generally similar to one another. This allowed the company to free up resources to learn more from their large clients – where more variability existed in response to their products and services.
Jorie Kirschbaum, Account Executive