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Do market research

Investigate the market to find and target your customers.

On this page

  • Define your research objective
  • Research your market, customers and competitors
  • Gather your data
  • Draw conclusions and make decisions

The Small Business Victoria Understanding Marketing short workshop will help you develop a marketing action plan to focus your effort and resources in the right areas, including market research, online activities and customer service. Find a workshop near you.

How to do market research in five steps

To run a successful business, you need to learn about your customers, your competitors and your industry. Market research involves asking the right questions, in the right way, to the right people. This gives your business directions and helps you stay on top of what your customers want, and how much they're willing to pay for it.

When you undertake market research, you can use your findings in two ways, to either start a new business and write your marketing plan or to measure the success of your current marketing plan.

1. Define your research objective

What do you want to know about your customers or your market?

The first step in the market research process is to define your research objectives. In other words, what is the key information that you would like your research to uncover? By defining what you intend on researching to start with you’ll be able to keep your research focused and effective.  For example, you might want to decide whether to launch a new product or service. Your research process would then be to assess whether the market will accept your new product or service, and how much they will be willing to pay for it.

2. Your market, customers and competitors

Once you have identified an objective, develop a list of research questions for your market, customers and competitors. Here are some examples:

Your market
  • what are the key demographics of your market (e.g. age, gender, etc.)?
  • how will your entrance affect the market/customers?
  • does the region where you operate have a stable economy?
Your customers
  • who are your target customers and how do they behave?
  • where are they located?
  • what’s the profile of an ideal customer for your business?
Your competitors
  • what’s the profile of a typical competitor for your business?
  • what are your competitors' main strengths?
  • what are your competitors' main weaknesses?
As a starting point, it's a good idea to look at resources such as IbisWorld (for industry reports) and  the small business portal of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

3. How will you gather your research?

There are two categories of data collection, and both are based on asking questions:

  • qualitative information is more investigative and involves a fewer number of respondents (focus groups and in-depth interviews)
  • quantitative information is used to draw specific conclusions and involves a large number of respondents (surveys and questionnaires).

A simple ‘yes or no’ survey can be completed over the phone, however, understanding personal choices (such as colour preferences) will usually require a face-to-face meeting. Some common methods for data collection include telephone polling, mailed questionnaires, online surveys and personal interviews.

For surveys consider inexpensive online services such as SurveyMonkey or create forms via Google Docs. To ask other business owners some questions, join our Facebook networking group I am a business owner in Victoria.

4. Interpret your findings

Keep your research objectives front of mind and look at ways of improving how you organise and group your research data - this will make it easier to come to a conclusion down the track. What have you discovered?

Here are some tips for data organisation:

  • identify any major trends consider using lists, tables, diagrams and mind-maps to organise your data
  • use your marketing plan to analyse your data to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

One of the most important steps in the market research process is interpreting your findings. What is the research telling you? By answering this question, you will be able to gain a thorough understanding of what the research has uncovered.

5. Draw conclusions and make decisions

Keep in mind that any conclusions you reach should align with your initial research objectives and business goals in general. Review all the data collected and ensure that there aren’t any gaps, examine the major trends or problems within your industry, analyse any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and use your research to make decisions about your marketing mix.

Case Study: How to do market research

'My research included establishing what other providers were offering – which was minimal, and tapping into my professional network – to evaluate their observations and experiences.'

Nicole Jones, dux property group

Read more about How to do market research

Nicole jacobs of dux property group standing out side smiling at the camera