Market research – it’s the essential step that every business needs to take to maximise their chance of success. It’s a hugely complex study area, and market research companies are constantly trying to find new ways to get the best results. From online and field surveys to panel interviews and product testing, there are hundreds of ways to gather information about the market place.
Naturally, there is a lot of science behind this research. With billions of dollars invested by businesses into market research, it’s essential that there is some science to back it up. But increasingly, art and creativity is playing a more prominent role.
What is market research?
Market research in itself is a science. At its core, it is about collecting qualitative and quantitative data about customers and the target markets of a particular product or service. The key purpose of market research is to ensure a business or product stays ahead of its competition. The goal once the data is collected is to analyse, interpret and assess what the market wants and needs; it also looks at competition and the size of the need. Using this assessment, businesses can work out how best to market their product. (Small Business Development Corporation, 2014)
Despite the overall purpose of market research being quite simple, there is not just one way to achieve the end result. In the era of the internet, businesses are becoming more competitive than ever before – and at a much faster rate. Market research needs to be more innovative and creative to stay ahead.
Psychology and market research
Many of the world’s largest market research company hire psychologists to develop and analyse market research plans. Qualified consumer psychologists specifically look at the behaviours of shoppers and try to work out why they are making the decisions that they do.
Psychologists are the perfect fit for market research, says psychologist Graham Chant. “Psychology training is extremely useful in market research. In fact, it could be argued that it is one of the few areas that make use of the board range of psychology skills,” he said. (Australian Psychological Society)
Many people debate whether marketing is an art or a science. Indeed, there is a fine line between the two. Undoubtedly the data that is at the core of market research is scientific, but the methods of collecting that data is becoming increasingly ‘artistic’. PR and market research companies are finding new and creative ways both to collect data and present it to their clients (Play MR).
Marketer, Frank Strong, recently made an interesting analogy that clarifies the importance of art in market research: ‘We can teach art students about primary and secondary colors — that red and green makes yellow — but only the artist can put them together in a way that evokes a reaction.’
As with many things, art and science are very closely related and in the case of market research, they need to work cohesively to achieve goals. While market research companies are trying to get more creative with their approach, the science and data analysis behind it will need to remain stable and accurate to ensure quality results.