In the dynamic world of business, where consumer preferences are constantly evolving, market research emerges as an invaluable tool for any marketing endeavor. A comprehensive understanding of the target market lays the foundation for successful advertising campaigns as well as other marketing strategies. Yet, SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) often have no budget for market research, even though experts suggest they can see more benefit from spending on research than big companies do.
In the context of a store specializing in mobility and disability aids, employing various market research techniques becomes crucial to understanding the needs of your target market so you can effectively connect with the unique needs and nuances of the target audience.
Types of market research
You may think about market research using an old paradigm, such as stopping people in the mall to ask inane questions about a brand. In fact, market research is a wide area that includes observational research methods that reduce the cost of market research and deliver faster results, which is important in ever-changing markets. In addition, market intelligence programs, such as monitoring your web analytics using tools like Google Analytics, provide a lot of useful information you can use to guide decision-making and improve performance.
While market research can answer any question you can think up, today we’ll focus on using market research to understand your target market. In today’s parlance, the notion of a target market expanded beyond simple demographic and geographic differences. Modern notions of personas include these variables but expand our understanding of the target market by including the target’s biggest pain points, where they hang out online and off, and a snapshot of key lifestyle variables. A persona looks more like this:
If you think your company can benefit by developing personas, here are some market research tactics you can try.
1. Surveys and questionnaires:
Surveys are a tried and true form of market research and are likely familiar to everyone reading this post. Conducting surveys and questionnaires is an effective way to directly gather insights from your target market about key aspects of their lives and how they make decisions. By formulating targeted questions related to mobility challenges, preferences, and purchase behaviors, businesses gain valuable qualitative and quantitative data they can use to appeal to the various segments existing in their market. This method allows for the collection of specific feedback that informs product development and advertising strategies. Traditionally, these questionnaires were deployed using mail, phone, or in-person interviews, which are expensive and don’t deliver results for weeks.
You can do surveys the old-fashioned way, which is expensive and time-consuming, or you can use online portals such as Qualtrics to host an online questionnaire. This reduces the cost of conducting surveys and you can collect data in days rather than weeks.
2. In-depth interviews:
In-depth interviews provide a more qualitative and personal approach to understanding the target market. By engaging in one-on-one conversations with individuals who fall within the target market, businesses to uncover more nuanced insights. That’s because depth interviews don’t use a standard questionnaire but employ a more fluid question guide that allows trained researchers to probe for more depth in a participant’s answers and vary questions to fit the individual.
Borrowed from anthropology and used in studies of indigenous tribes, this method is very effective when you want to understand your target market on a deeper level. This method is particularly valuable for delving into the emotional aspects of purchasing decisions related to mobility and disability aids.
3. Observational techniques
One of the big problems with the methods discussed earlier is the potential for response bias — in the vernacular, this means you don’t get objective responses. Instead, you get responses based on how respondents think you want them to respond, they hide their true feelings because they’re afraid you’ll judge them, or they respond arbitrarily without thinking about the answer.
Observational techniques remove the specter of response bias, at least to an extent. Instead of asking questions, you simply observe how people behave in public situations. For instance, Chrysler used observation before developing the minivan, one of the most successful new models in modern times. They saw how consumers used existing vehicles, cars, trucks, and vans, with an eye toward discovering how these vehicles fail their owners.
Obviously, observational techniques can’t help when the behaviors are private, which is why political polls fail to explain the actual vote count after the polls close.
4. Data analytics and online monitoring:
Leveraging data analytics tools like Google Analytics and various social media analytics platforms offer a wealth of information regarding consumer behavior. In addition, analyzing online forums, social media discussions, and even interpreting video and image assets shared online provide real-time insights into trends, preferences, and sentiments within the target market. This data-driven approach enables businesses to adapt their advertising strategies based on current consumer dynamics.
5. Competitor analysis:
Examining the strategies of competitors catering to a similar demographic can offer valuable benchmarks. By understanding what has worked well for others and identifying gaps or opportunities in the market, businesses can refine their own advertising approaches. Competitor analysis provides a broader perspective and helps in positioning the store uniquely in the market.
6. Focus groups:
Organizing focus group sessions with individuals from the target market allows for dynamic discussions and interactions. These groups provide a platform for participants to share their experiences, preferences, and expectations. The back-and-forth dialogue in a focus group setting can uncover insights that might not emerge through other research methods.
7. Accessibility audits:
Given the nature of the products, businesses can conduct accessibility audits to understand the physical and digital barriers their target audience may face. This involves assessing the ease of navigation in physical stores, the accessibility of online platforms, and the overall user experience. Findings from such audits can guide improvements in both product offerings and advertising channels.
8. Collaboration with advocacy groups:
Building partnerships with disability advocacy groups and organizations can offer valuable insights and connections within the target market. These collaborations not only provide a deeper understanding of the community but also enhance the credibility of the business as one that is actively engaged with and supportive of the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Understanding the niche market using market research
When dealing with products that cater to a specific niche, such as mobility and disability aids, it becomes imperative to identify and understand the unique characteristics of the target market. Unlike general consumer goods, these products serve a specific demographic with distinct needs, preferences, and challenges. Therefore, the success of advertising for a store in this niche heavily relies on a nuanced understanding of the target audience.
In the case of a mobility and disability aid store, the demographic is likely to include individuals with varying degrees of mobility challenges and disabilities. This could encompass a wide age range, from seniors seeking aid for aging-related issues to younger individuals with disabilities. The store must consider factors such as mobility levels, specific disabilities, and varying preferences within this diverse demographic.
Tailoring marketing strategies:
Once the target market has been identified and thoroughly understood, the next step is to tailor marketing strategies to effectively reach and resonate with the audience. Traditional advertising channels may not be as effective as digital platforms or specialized publications that cater specifically to individuals with mobility challenges or disabilities. Understanding the preferred communication channels and media consumption habits of the target market is crucial for successful outreach.
Empathy and sensitivity:
In marketing to a demographic dealing with mobility challenges and disabilities, it is paramount to approach advertising with empathy and sensitivity. The messaging should focus on empowerment, independence, and solutions rather than emphasizing limitations.
Creating relatable and positive narratives in advertising can build trust and establish a genuine connection with the target audience.
Utilizing inclusive imagery and language:
Inclusive marketing is a key component when targeting a diverse audience with mobility and disability needs. The imagery used in advertisements should reflect the diversity within the target market, showcasing individuals of different ages, ethnicities, and abilities. Additionally, the language used should be respectful, avoiding stigmatizing or patronizing tones that may alienate potential customers.
How to do good market research
Doing good market research is challenging and reliance on bad market research can have devastating consequences. Consider the situation of New Coke, which is cited in most textbooks as an epic failure in market research.
The company asked the wrong questions and then changed its formula for Coke, its top-selling product at the time, without validating the findings. The product, New Coke, led consumers to match in the streets demanding “old Coke” back and hoarded as much of the old formula as they could get their hands on. It worked out for Coca-Cola as they quickly shifted back to the old formula and even gained from all the publicity surrounding their change, but that’s an anomaly. Commonly, bad market research leads to bad (maybe disastrous) outcomes for the company.
If you want to learn how to do good market research, follow my posts in this category. Here’s a good graphic showing the steps in the market research process.
Investing time and resources in researching the target market is not just a step in the advertising process; it is a foundational element that can determine the success or failure of marketing campaigns.
For a store specializing in mobility and disability aids, understanding the unique needs and preferences of the target demographic is paramount. By tailoring marketing strategies to the specific characteristics of the audience, businesses can establish a meaningful connection, build trust, and ultimately drive success in the market.
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