Why Market Research Just isn't Enough
All companies want to reach their target audience in the best way possible, to provide them with products and services that best suit their needs and wants in order to become competitive and grow. This need for specifically targeted products and services becomes even more important when companies expand globally or within current markets. What audiences want varies significantly between countries and also within them. Understanding the overall context of a society will inform and influence people’s behaviour and attitude, ultimately shaping market trends. Market research is just the tip of the iceberg and a company needs to understand more than this to fulfil their ultimate potential in a market.
So, how should companies find out their global and current audiences wants and needs? Despite what many companies think, the answer isn’t market research.
Why not market research?
Too many companies rely on market research when trying to understand their audiences and markets. Although market research provides a certain degree of high-level insights, it needs to be complemented by other types of research. Focusing on market research alone can lead to companies spending a lot of time and money on products, services, features, apps, websites and software that don’t actually meet the needs and wants of a market. This often limits a company’s potential success in a new or existing market, which can be easily avoided if they engage in a full in-depth understanding of their audiences and markets and showcase this in their product/service.
Making decisions solely of market research insights also means a company is always going to be following what other companies are doing. Without being able to spot niches in markets and understand the ultimate factors that shape a society, it is hard for any company to be innovative and stand out.
If not market research, then what?
Market research doesn’t allow companies to understand how different aspects of a person’s life influences how they interact, engage, research and shop products and services. Factors such as how people interact with their social and physical environments, infrastructure, social views and values will all influence their behaviour, shopping patterns, ideas and methods when it comes to approaching products and services. Infrastructure can include internet accessibility, education facilities, transportation, communication and more. Often, the way whole industries operate in one country will affect how people use the services within it. For example, how much free time people and how much as a society they value family time will influence the leisure and entertainment industry. In France, family time and a work-life balance are highly valued with time spent away from work often dedicated to spending time with families. Therefore, there is a large leisure infrastructure dedicated to families and children in France. Any company setting up in the leisure industry in France should be aware of this and therefore tailor their products in accordance with this family-based society.
Knowing a countries ecosystem, infrastructure, behaviour, views and values leads to understanding markets and audiences holistically. When this is understood, companies can then develop, design, adjust and tailor their marketing, apps, products, services, software and more to their specific audience and market.
How does this benefit a company?
Customers buy what suits their needs and wants the best. If a product or service isn’t user-friendly or does not offer what they require, they will use another product/service that better caters to their needs. In most markets, the rise of online shopping has increased the levels of competition, making it even more imperative that companies stand out in their new and current markets.
Designing, developing and marketing products that aren’t desired by a market is not only going to hinder a company's success in that market but will also be very costly. Knowing and understanding a market before entering it allows a company to fully utilise its ecosystem before designing and developing products/services/features for that specific market.
If an audience feels as though a company has designed a product specially for their needs they are more likely to buy it and, if it meets up to their expectations, will recommend it to others. With the increase in social media and online platforms, being able to recommend and share experiences with products has never been easier or quicker. This means that positive feedback can be quickly spread online, across markets and countries, informing more than the intended market of the product/service which may open up new markets who desire the same type of product/service that the company never intended for it to be for.
When Bosh set out to design a washing machine for the Indian market, their market research told them that people in India wanted a washing machine that killed bacteria and germs like no other washing machine. However, when Bosh began to explore India’s ecosystem, talked to people and observed their lives, they realised killing germs and bacteria wasn’t a top priority for washing machines in families. Instead, they found that with up to three generations living together in one house in hot and humid conditions, big loads of laundry were having to be done every day. The women, who were mostly in charge of doing the washing, would do the laundry in the morning and hang it out to dry during the day while they were at work. Because of this, the feature that was desired the most from washing machines was quick cycles so that the laundry could be done and hanging up to dry before the woman headed off to work.
This is just one example of how different the real needs and wants of customers can be compared to those brought up in market research. If Bosh hadn’t looked into the market further they would have created a product that wasn’t in demand and therefore it may not have been a successful expansion.
In a nutshell
Overall, if companies want to successfully expand globally or grow within current markets, they need to think beyond market research and understand each one of their markets individually. It’s important not to just look at the differences between countries but the similarities too so that future designs and development can easily be transferred between countries with minimal re-designing needed.
There are countless benefits for a company that wants to understand their market and audience, such as competitiveness and innovatively, but overall this knowledge and application will help companies with their global success, retention and conversion.
Want to know more about how market research isn’t giving your company the information and understanding it needs to successfully target a specific global audience and market? Get in touch.