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Market Research – Sourcing Information for Your Small Business

OK, you acknowledge your need to undertake detailed market research on which to develop both your overall business strategy and your sales and marketing strategy, but the big question is where do you source this information? Let’s take a look at the type of market research available and where you are likely to be able to locate it. globalgate

There are three main sources of market research, they are secondary sources, primary sources and expert sources.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are those sources of information that have been collected previously by other individuals or organisations. It is important when you source secondary information that you assess whether it is an appropriate fit for what you are researching and whether it is current. Secondary sources of information can help you to identify other sources of information, it can help you to get an overall picture of your market or it may provide more detailed information on a specific segment of the market.

In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is a key source of information, much of it for free or at minimal cost. Industry bodies and associations may also be a good source of industry level information. They usually provide the information for free to members but may charge a small fee for non-members. Libraries can also be a good source of statistical information but is often reference material that cannot leave the library, so be prepared to stay and write it down.

Government departments are also a good source of information. Much of their research is now readily accessible on their websites, and if it isn’t, a quick phone call can help you identify what other information is available. You can arrange to have a copy of the appropriate research paper sent to you.

Other sources of information are industry conferences, business newspapers and magazines, Austrade, trade journals, professional associations, banks and university research reports.

Primary Sources

Primary sources of information is information you gather direct from the source. This information is more time consuming to gather but it does ensure that you have information that is directly relevant and timely. There are many ways of collecting primary information such as direct observation, surveys and questionnaires, which can be conducted face-to-face, on the phone or online. Sales tests, focus group discussions and personal interviews are other ways to gather primary research data.

When conducting primary research you need to be prepared and be very clear about what it is you wish to know. You need to keep the questions short and specific and very clear. Make an effort to eliminate any possible ambiguity. You need a process by which you collect and record the answers that doesn’t rely on memory and try not to cover too much ground as you will lose the interest of your interviewee. Also you need to ensure that the people you survey are a direct reflection of the market segment you intend to target and that you ask an adequate number of people.

Expert Sources

Experts are usually an excellent source of information or they can help to point to possible sources of the information you require. Possible sources of expert research include small business advisory centres, consultant researchers, industry experts, chambers of commerce, shopping centre management, banks or your accountant. Universities are often contacted by third parties to undertake research on their behalf and make this information public at the completion of the studies.