Market research can be absolutely key throughout various points in bringing a product or solution to market, and promoting it effectively. Only by understanding what your potential customers want and what their pain points are can you develop products that will appeal to them when they are ready to sell. Furthermore, it is only by understanding not only how people are responding to your product or service, but why, that you can continue to enhance it, market it to the right people, and support it.
One of the problems with conducting market research is that it can be difficult to both find enough of the type of people you want to know the opinions of, and to reach them. Analyzing the data gathered by a market research project is often the easy part – it is getting good data in the first place that can be tricky.
Not only do you need a big enough volume of respondents for your statistics to be a good representation of the market, and not swayed by one or two people with ‘outlier’ views, but you also need to know those people have been selected from the target audience you care about – there is no sense in finding out what housewives think of your product aimed at teenage boys.
Because finding respondents, incentivizing them to do your surveys, and coordinating the whole effort can be complicated and time consuming, and if not done efficiently will yield results that are hard to mine useful facts from, it is usually best to let a professional market research company handle it for you. A good method is using online survey companies like Survey Junkie. These address a lot of your issues, because they already have a user base who have been screened for their demographics and interests, so the survey can be targeted at the appropriate users. Users are then rewarded for doing your surveys, so there is a strong motivator for them to complete them.
How you go on to analyze the results of your research is largely down to what you are trying to find out. If you want to find stats from it to help you gauge how satisfied consumers are, how popular certain ideas or features are, and other things that are easily quantifiable, then having a good data analyst look over your survey responses can help you get a clear picture of what respondents are really telling you. If you have gone for a more freeform approach and asked respondents to explain things in their own words and comments, having a session where you, designers and other key stakeholders get together and talk through each response and any ideas it sparks can be a good way to get value from them.
Market research really helps you position and design your offerings well, and by using online survey facilities you can take a lot of the struggle out of it.