5 Market Research Challenges And How to Turn Them into Strengths
Market research is one of the most important things a brand can invest in. Without good market research, your product is likely to be entirely unprepared for hitting the market.
That said, market research isn’t always easy, especially in this fast-changing world. Market researchers and analysts face significant challenges.
With the right tools and tactics, these challenges can be turned into strengths. But how?
Let’s take a look at five of the biggest challenges facing today’s
market researchers, and how those challenges can be transformed into strengths.
Image sourced from
Market research challenges
Limited access to relevant data
Market research is powered by data. Lack of (or limited) access to relevant data is a significant challenge for market researchers.
Often, the problem is not lack of access to data as a whole, but to relevant data. Market researchers may pull in a wealth of data, but to draw truly actionable insights that data needs to be pared down into the metrics that matter.
Unfortunately, the most relevant and useful data can also be hard to obtain. Data protection laws mean that companies cannot take sensitive data from customers without explicit permission. While things like anonymous surveys can help, gathering relevant data can still be difficult.
Without a degree of trust (and maybe an incentive), customers are
often reluctant to hand over things like demographic information and their email addresses.
Complexity of data analysis
Data analysis can be complex. Even well-trained data experts may find it tricky to comb through the reams of available data, extract what is relevant, spot important patterns/anomalies, and draw useful insights.
Even when the data experts have drawn market insights from the available dataset, communicating what they’ve learned can be difficult. Due to the complex nature of data analysis, a phenomenon known as the ‘insight gap’ may occur.
The ‘insight gap’ is the space between what qualified data experts
can discern and how decision-makers understand this. There are often communication failures between data
analysts and management teams, which can lead to misinterpretation and confusion over what market research
data is actually saying.
Changing consumer behavior and preferences
The fast-changing modern world is a major challenge for market researchers. Real-time insights from consumers are the gold standard of market research, but consumer preferences and behaviors can change very quickly. By the time the insights gleaned from your market research can be put into action, those insights may no longer be relevant.
We are living in a time of great market ambiguity. Needs, concerns, behaviors, and solutions fluctuate all the time. This can make it hard to pin down what your market needs from you at any given time.
A big part of market research is competitive intelligence. To get a clear view of the market situation, it is vital to understand your competitors’ strategies, USPs, plans, and more.
However, collecting and analyzing competitive intelligence can be a
difficult task. Competitors are naturally eager to keep their most valuable tactics to themselves, which
makes it hard to glean deep insights.
While you can get a reasonable view of your competitors through things like monitoring their social media profiles, signing up to their marketing, a degree of networking, and things like product market-fit surveys, it’s harder to get insider-level information on competitor strategy.
Similarly, the sheer volume of competitor content out there can be
overwhelming. Trying to sift through all competitor messaging and reverse-engineering it to reveal insights
about their strategy is an enormous task.
Image sourced from datazymes.com
Conducting market research is incredibly important for any brand that wants to get ahead. Despite this, it’s often hard to get leaders to properly invest in market research.
All too often, market researchers find themselves working on a shoestring budget. This means that they are unable to deploy the high-quality resources and expertise they need to gain truly actionable insights.
One problem is that market research is often seen as a means to a specific end. For example, market research will be done in sporadic bursts, perhaps before the launch of a big new marketing campaign or during the development of a new flagship product.
Ideally, market research should be continuously ongoing. This gives
brands the agility they need to move with market fluctuations and anticipate big new trends. Despite this,
it is rare for market researchers to get the kind of budget they need.
Turning Challenges into Strengths
Leveraging technology and data sources
There is a wealth of data out there and you can draw a wealth of insights from the data you already have. The challenge is collecting and harnessing this data so you can use it.
The right automation and AIs can automatically gather data from relevant sources, filter it for relevance, and send it for further analysis. This is especially true if you have an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning system.
An ERP system integration will bring all of your customer, marketing, and product data into one central hub. From here, you can quickly and easily sort it into categories and extract the relevant data for your market research. It’s a fast and efficient way of getting high-quality data for effective market research.
Enhancing data analysis capabilities
Enhanced data analysis capability allows you to close the insight gap. A smaller (or nonexistent) insight gap can give you a considerable edge over your competitors. But how can you enhance your data analysis capabilities to the point where the insight gap disappears?
The answer, again, is a blend of technology and strategy. These are just a few of the factors that can have a huge impact on your data analysis capabilities:
- Regularly cleansing your data.
- Integrating data across departments.
- Improving your data collection techniques.
- Clarifying outcomes and objectives.
- Improving communication between researchers, analysts, and leadership.
- Deploying the right tools.
- Training team members in data interpretation
Embracing agile research methodologies
Image sourced from greenbook.org
As mentioned above, market research is at its best when it is done on an ongoing basis. To achieve this, brands can use agile research methodologies.
Agile research involves collecting, testing, and analyzing data quickly and continuously. Rather than running long-form market research campaigns, agile brands use modern technology to quickly gather consumer feedback and test the waters of the market.
Automated market research platforms allow marketers to put together questionnaires within minutes and get relevant responses within hours. This allows for decisions to be made extremely quickly. In a fast-changing market, this speed is a huge strength.
The process can be sped up even further with the right business management software. ERP project management systems, for example, can give you greater research agility by allowing you to monitor your data and project development, so you know when new changes can be implemented.
Strengthening competitive intelligence efforts
Competitive intelligence can feel like a battle of wits between you and your competitors. But there are ways to strengthen your competitive intelligence efforts without having to resort to espionage!
The right technology is very useful. Marketing platforms like Sprout Social can monitor your competitors’ social media presence and provide you with insights. Similarly, you can use your CRM and/or ERP to gather consumer feedback on things like the competitor products they use and why they like/dislike them.
In general, enhancing your market research and your overall understanding of the market will give you the foundation you need to strengthen your competitive intelligence.
Optimizing research budget utilization
Optimizing a research budget doesn’t have to mean throwing more money at it. There are ways to increase your market research spending power without having to fight leadership for it.
For example, you could:
- Utilize the right technology and automation. These can do a huge amount of work very quickly and for a relatively low cost
- Prioritize your spending, and ensure that all of your budgets is being spent on tools, time, and methods that you genuinely need
- Try to obtain slightly more money than you think you need, in order to cover emergencies
Brands can gain a big competitive advantage by turning market research challenges into strengths. The right technologies and strategies can make a huge difference here.
By utilizing the right strategies in combination with the right
technologies, it is possible to pull relevant data out of the sea of numbers, close the data insight gap,
give your research more agility, and strengthen your competitive intelligence. What’s more, this can all be
done for relatively low cost, enabling you to perfectly optimize your budget.
5 Market Research Challenges And How to Turn Them into Strengths FAQ
How can I ensure I am getting accurate market research data?
Conducting rigorous quality control checks throughout the research process is the best way to ensure you are getting accurate data. Additionally, double-checking the data for patterns or inconsistencies can help you identify any potential issues.
How can I make sure I am targeting the right people for my market research?
It is important to identify your target audience and use the right methods to reach them. For example, if you are targeting a younger demographic, consider using digital methods such as online surveys to get their feedback.
How can I ensure my research is cost-effective?
Consider using the most cost-effective research methods for your project, such as online surveys or focus groups. Additionally, ensure you are negotiating the best possible rates for the research.
How can I make sure I am getting actionable insights from my research?
It is important to focus on getting insights that can be used to make informed decisions. Consider asking specific questions that can be used to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can be used to inform decision-making.
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