Face it - your marketing won't work without market research

5 minutes read
Mike - 07.10.2021
Your marketing won't work without market research

Did you know that Colgate once produced frozen dinners?

Yes, that very well known toothpaste brand, once was in the market as a seller of frozen lasagne.

Or do you remember the 1990s when Starbucks and Pepsi partnered to create "Mazagran" a coffee flavoured bottled pop.

Or how about that once upon a time, Playboy magazine decided to ditch the nudity and released its first ever non-nude issue.

If you don't remember all these things, it's probably because they weren't very successful, so aren't very memorable.

The point is, these are examples of brands trying to launch products into the market that the market wasn't ready for, didn't want (those poor Playboy readers probably had a heart attack) or put them in direct competition with another brand that already owned that space.

And this is why market research is so important for us as marketers.

Afterall, if these mega brands can't branch out and force new products on consumers, what chance do the rest of us have.


Avoiding failure (hopefully) by understanding the marketplace

It's a business concept as old as time really.

You research the market, find a gap, and claim it for yourself.

Apple did it when it brought desktop computers to the masses.

Coco-Cola did it way back in the day by making drinks easy for people to have on the go.

McDonalds did it by making fast-food actually fast.

In each case, these brands identified a problem with the current market, identified a challenge consumers were struggling to overcome, and came in with a solutions.

Today, it all just looks like a stroke of genius. Something that happened overnight.

In reality, most successful companies win, because they do the research.


Why market research is so important

Colgate's cold dinners is a prime example of what happens when a company decides to wants to enter a market, without understanding if there's space in it.

No-one realistically was going to think of a toothpaste brand when thinking what to have for dinner after work.

And so the frozen meal venture died.

Playboy (yes, them again) made a grave mistake by taking a loyal customer base (with a pretty basic desire from the brand) and trying to give them something they didn't want.

No matter how big your brand is, market research should never be underestimated.

Businesses survive changing landscapes and marketplaces by understanding how and why things are changing so they can adapt.

Other businesses actually make a success of introducing new products or services by identifying a need, researching the market to develop their products before they release them.

And it's not just something you should do once.

This type of research could and should be done at various stages of your business or even customer lifecycle.

Whether it's before you launch a product, immediately after you launch a product, or as part of a wider review of the market and your perceived place in it.


What you can learn from market research

Doing market research can help you figure out all sorts of things about your brand, the market and your customers:


What's your reputation?

Brand reputation is everything today, and businesses poor millions - at least - into protecting their reputation with customers.

Having a strong reputation helps build credibility but as Warren Buffet famously said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

Market research will help you understand your reputation in the marketplace and - more importantly - identify any weak points in your reputation that you need to fix.

Afterall, you might perceive yourself as one thing, but that doesn't mean your customers do.


Build opportunities for brand awareness

In SEO there's a saying that the best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google because no one ever looks there.

Building brand awareness is a tricky thing, especially in a crowded marketplace.

But with some research, you can start to build a picture of how your brand is recognised in the market - if at all - and build a plan to increase that awareness.


Understand market segments and trends

All good marketing relies on the ability of a company to identify its customer, and market to them specifically.

Understanding the different market segments you operate in and how they shift is critical if you're going to succeed.

The wants, needs and challenges of one segment could be completely different to another segment - even in the same marketplace.

Without segmenting your market properly with research, you're just firing shots in the dark.


Get real customer feedback

Not everyone likes getting feedback - or at least asking for it.

There's always a chance it's not going to be good.

But doing market research on your customers, and their perceptions of your product and service is the only real way you'll identify whether you're meeting expectations, or if you're running the risk of losing customers.


Understand the effectiveness of your marketing

Did you know that about 89% of ads that people see are instantly forgotten.

Or that most are recalled negatively.

That's a lot of money spent on ads and marketing that's either forgotten or not remembered fondly.

But the only way you'll know if your marketing is working is by asking these questions.

And these are important questions.

Like how recognisable is your brand based on your marketing? Do your customers wrongly assume your marketing belongs to another company? It does happen.

If they do, you're basically doing your competitors work for them.


Time to start putting market research back on the agenda

We know that as marketers there's tonnes of pressure to be seen to be doing things.

Mostly today producing and promoting content.

But we need to start putting market research back on the agenda.

Without understanding our customers, the wider marketplace, and how we fit in it - or how we're perceived to fit into it - we've got no chance of making any kind of impact - unless you count bouncing out the boardroom door when we've got nothing to show for our efforts.


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