It makes sense not to commit investment to new development or promotion without first understanding the market, what benefits the users are seeking and response to different brands. But few companies actually do this. Some assume they know all about their market. Others may think market research is too expensive, so don’t bother. But to conduct a basic awareness and perceptions study need not be prohibitive and can save expensive misplaced investments in producing an ‘off track’ product, or communicating the wrong message. First define your target market. Where is your product being sold? Then define who will buy, or influence that sale. Produce a list of your target audience and take a random selection to ask for their views. Ask what names ‘come to mind’ unprompted, if your brand is not mentioned then prompt with other brand names to see if they have any recall at all. Further questions can establish perceptions they hold of different manufacturers, issues relating to the type of products currently available and key specification criteria that lead to a purchase decision and the most trusted sources of product information. It is surprising how often a simple telephone survey can produce results that show the awareness and perceptions held about a brand are ‘at odds’ with the company held assumptions .
Keep the interview short, get straight to the point and also record the anecdotal comments – these are often just as informative. A survey may bring up some really fundamental issues. One example found in testing the market’s response to a new product was that nobody would order it because they had massive delivery problems so the market didn’t trust them. Another company that perceived their image as traditional and were looking to launch a campaign to promote a new style, discovered their long absence in communication with customers had led many to think they had gone out of business. But more typically surveys do confirm much of the company’s own views and can help fine tune the campaign, so marketing spend can be committed selectively where it will realize the greatest benefit.