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What We Got Wrong About the First Step in Marketing Research?

by Aaron Finch

What is the first step in the marketing research process?

There is no clear answer and the marketing research industry has been divided on this question for decades. Most people think the first step in marketing research is to find out what consumers want. But other people believe that you should start by finding out where consumers are going to get their information from, and how they’re currently being marketed to. The truth is that there’s no right answer — both approaches have their pros and cons, so it’s up to you which one you decide on. In this post we explore both sides of the argument so that you can make the best decision for your business.

The wrong approach to marketing research:

Most people assume that the first step in marketing research is to find out what consumers want. That’s because most marketers and businesses define marketing research as a way to get information on target markets, rather than as a way to solve business problems. This emphasis is reflected in the language used when we talk about marketing research — we say things like “we can use this data for our next campaign” or “this information will be useful when we create our new product range”. The problem with approaching marketing research from this angle is that it focuses heavily on what you want, and not enough on what your consumers actually need.

What is its use?

The main reason why marketers get so focused on their own business goals is because marketing research is often used as a tool to assist with product development. And if you focus on this aspect of marketing research, then you’ll probably think it’s better to focus on what consumers want. But that doesn’t mean that the other approach, which focuses on consumers, can’t be helpful too. 

Advantages of the ‘consumer’ approach:

When you look at consumers first, you gain a more complete understanding of what their needs are — and that helps your products or services to be better designed and more effective than if they’re not based in reality. This information will also be more useful for businesses that aren’t creating new products. For example, knowing what consumers want to buy in the future will help you to refine your current product offerings, and allow you to focus on improving sales rather than on trying to come up with new products.

Although there’s no clear right answer when it comes to choosing which approach is best, there’s a better one for most businesses. Although the ‘marketing research process’ is often used as a way to develop new products, it can just as easily be used as a way to improve your existing offerings and boost sales. For example, if your business is currently struggling to keep up with the competition, you’ll probably want to focus on proprietary customer tools that tackle customer and consumer data.

The bottom line:

If you’re a business that’s not creating new products, then it’s much better to know what your consumers want and how they’ll behave in the future — this information can be used to improve your current products and make them more effective at meeting consumer needs. But if you are creating new products, then it’s better to know what customers want in order to make sure they’re relevant. Both approaches can help your business succeed — it just depends on which one is most appropriate for your specific situation.

What is its use?

When people talk about marketing research, they often mean market research. But market research can be used for more than just finding out what consumers want — it’s also used for proving that your existing products or services are effective, and for tracking characteristics of existing or potential customers. In fact, the most common type of marketing research is called product testing. This involves taking a small sample of users and watching them to see what kind of behavior your products inspire — and then making adjustments to improve the behavior you’re seeing.

Advantages for marketers:

The main reason why marketers get so focused on their own business goals is because marketing research is often used as a tool to assist with product development. But if you approach it from the perspective that it’s an important part of your business and a tool for boosting sales, then you’ll have a more accurate understanding of what your customers want. You’ll also be able to make better use of what you’re learning about your customers and how they behave.

Advantages for users:

If you’re using marketing research to track customer behavior, then knowing what your customers actually think about products and services can be much more effective than simply assuming that they want something. The information you gain from this type of research can help you understand how people think about products in the real world — and will often give insight into the way different types of consumers are using those products or services.

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