How Good Are Your Research Skills?

By: Rebecca Cho

What if a vegetarian-only restaurant opened up in a community known for having a heavy meat-based diet?  The restaurant could either be exactly what the community wanted or it could be the exact opposite.  One way to answer this question is to take the risk and hopefully, people will be willing to try something different.  Another way would be to do some market research about the community to see if it would be the best fit.

Why market research?  Market research gives you the information you need to learn about your customers, other competition, and if the products/services you have are in demand.   It also allows your business to become less vulnerable to risk and more sustainable in sales and business trends.  

While doing your research, there are a couple of key factors that you should make sure to include.    

1.      Understand the difference between primary and secondary research.  
Primary research is the information you will obtain directly from potential customers or locals in the area that you want your business to target. 
·         Primary Research Ideas:
o   SurveyMonkey

Secondary research is the data you pull from other sources that have already compiled information.
·         Secondary Research Ideas:
o   Internet Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
o   Local Newspapers
o   Government Statistics

Try having a balance of both primary and secondary research.  Having too much of either can create false assumptions. 

2.       Have quantitative and qualitative data.  
Quantitative data relies heavily on statistics and numbers.  For example, it could be how many hits you receive per day on your website or what the average income per family is in the community you want to market to.
Qualitative data is information usually drawn from interviews or surveys.  It allows you to delve deeper into your research because it can identify market openings or potential problems that could arise in the future. 

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data is the best way to leverage the full potential of your research. For instance, knowing the average age of your customer base and finding out their general interests through interviews can give you a better idea of both what and how you should advertise your business. 

Happy researching!

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