Whatever your size or sector, understanding the cultural, social and economic context in which you’re trading is crucial. You need to know who your competition is, and what people are prepared to pay for your product or service. Ensuring that you invest in the right sectors and the right products can save you money in the long run.

Jose Scheuer a lecturer in business and marketing at the London School of Business and Finance revealed: “Whereas in the past a small business had competition from other, often local, small businesses and their customers were known, today a small business competes in a much larger field. Not only does it face competition from local as well as international companies, often these competitors are much larger and have greater negotiating power to source and sell at cheaper prices. In addition to this, small businesses face competition from the unstoppable growth from e-commerce.”

Paul Mooney is the director at Blue Orchid, a small business support service, says that market research is a “fundamental thing”. He points to five key steps in the market research process;

1)      Deciding the questions you need answers to

2)      What information you need to collect in order to answer those questions

3)      How you’re going to collect the information

4)      How you’re going to analyse it

5)      What you’re going to do with the results.

It’s important that any questions you are going to use, for example in a survey, are rigorously tested – it may be that they are open to different interpretations or cover more than one issue. Mooney said, it is critical: “If you ask the wrong questions you could end up getting misleading answers which will then lead to poor business decisions”.

However you shouldn’t be fooled in thinking that market research is only required at the beginning of a business venture. There are many times throughout a business’s lifespan when market research should be undertaken, from developing a new product or service to finding out how they can deal with a legislative change and increasing the price of your product or service.

You don’t always need to carry out market research from scratch there is a lot of third-party (and often free!) research already available. You can start by spending an hour or two researching the internet and looking at your potential competitors. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has a wealth of information, including the annual business survey.

With thorough research taking time, it is worth small businesses outsourcing to an insight agency like Aspect Market Research who are able to carry out analysis on the results and take on large and complex research, leaving you to concentrate on building and growing your business.

Get in touch to find out how Aspect Market Research can help you and your business or call 0161 831 7171

Quotes from; The Guardian