Research your market

Research your market

Did you know that small businesses lose at least 20% of their customers over the course of a year? Or that at least 50% of advertising undertaken by small business doesn’t work but most owners don’t know why? If you’re one of the many puzzling over the same questions, it could be time to bite the bullet and sleuth out some hard data about what makes your customers tick.

Market research doesn’t have to cost you huge amounts of money or time and is a must have when it comes to informing your marketing and business strategies. It tells you what’s working and what’s not. It also gives you critical insights into who your customers are, what they want, what price point they’re prepared to pay and the best way to reach them.

The more you know about your customer and changing market trends, the better placed you’ll be to meet their needs, stay ahead of your competitors and increase your profit margin. Good data also gives you a competitive edge by identifying gaps and opportunities and ensures you are first to market with new products and services that meet growing demand.

How do I undertake my own research?

Market research doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. It can be as simple as talking to your customers and finding out what they want through to running a focus group or developing a short questionnaire that they can either fill out in person, on line, or by phone.

There’s also a wealth of information online you can tap into to find out what your competitors are doing. By trawling their websites, you can quickly find out who else is selling similar products at what price point and what marketing tactics they are using.

Or why not just interrogate the information you already hold in your database. Simply looking at your customer’s credit card transactions, spending patterns and address details will tell you quite a bit about your regular customers and how to best target them. It will also tell you which of your customers are high value, repeat or new customers and where you should be investing your resources and energy.

But before you undertake any research, make sure you have a clear idea about what kind of information you’re after. Also make sure you test your questions on a few people before you send out any surveys to ensure your questions make sense and are framed to give you the answers you need.

Xpress Tips


  • Talk to your customers. Find out about what they think about your products and services, what improvements you can make and who else they purchase from.
  • Talk to your staff and find out what feedback they’re observing.
  • Talk to your industry peers and find out what trends they’re experiencing.
  • Talk to your local chamber of commerce
  • Talk to your suppliers. Not only do they have their finger on new and emerging trends, they also supply to your competitors.
  • You can also find plenty of good secondary data and customer demographics from government statistics, trade publications and industry association surveys.