Five Common Market Research Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Market Research is an important part of a business’s strategy, but to ensure the research you carry out is valid it needs to be carefully planned and executed.  I have seen many businesses carry out research projects without careful planning only to find it difficult to interpret and implement the findings.

Here are five common mistakes I have seen people make when carrying out their own market research,

  1. Not setting clear objectives – Many businesses often want to do market research to get a better understanding of their customers without really thinking about what they need to know, or how they are going to use the information.  Do you want to know more about who they are? Or what motivates them to buy your product or service?  Or do you want to find out how satisfied they are with your service.    Pick one clear objective and stick to it.   Only ask questions that are relevant to that objective.
  2. Recruiting the wrong respondents – Sometimes small businesses and entrepreneurs think that the most important way to achieve robust actionable data is to talk to as many people as possible regardless of who they are.   Sadly this is not the case.   If a respondent is not interested in the type of product you are selling, and will never be part of your target market, then their opinion is irrelevant. 
  3. Choosing the wrong methodology for the type of research -   Sometimes businesses have the email addresses of their customers, and automatically think that an online quantitative study will answer all their objectives.  Even if those objectives are to find out what people love about the city they live in.    There are some research objectives that are better suited to a qualitative methodology, especially when you want to explore people’s attitudes or ideas.  Quantitative research is more suited to objectives related to ranking, or prioritizing ideas. 
  4. Asking Double Barreled Questions –  The most common double-barreled  question I see in questionnaires is:- How would you rate the staff member in terms of helpfulness and friendliness? This question may seem reasonable at first.   But how would you answer the question if the staff member you spoke to was very friendly but had no idea to help you?
  5.  Ignoring the research – I have worked in companies that think they do not need market research, because the decision makers within the organisation think they know what the consumer wants or needs better than the consumer does.     Therefore when they have to do research and the research tells them something they do not want to hear, they ignore it.   Unfortunately, I have also seen large quantities of money being wasted on developing advertising that the research said would be like wallpaper, boring and won’t stand out.  Guess what happened when the ad was released – that’s right nothing, no lift in sales, no increased brand recognition in fact nobody remembered the ad.

There are a number of errors I see in market research but these are some of the most common. 

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2 Responses to Five Common Market Research Mistakes Small Businesses Make
  1. Pieter
    June 6, 2012 | 9:49 pm

    I agree 100%. being a professional myself I have seen this so many times. And the best kicker, companies spend thousands and then some just to ignore the figures and run with their gut. Proper, planned and correct research will save you much more over the long run. Thanks for this article!

    • SaraD
      June 7, 2012 | 9:30 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Pieter. Now just to convince my stakeholders

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