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Product marketing research is one of the most important marketing tools for anyone in the marketing industry. It helps businesses identify how changes in a particular market affect the consumers’ behavior. Product marketing research involves gathering, measuring, recording, interpreting, classifying and analyzing data that is related to your product’s market. It enables companies to prepare their marketing strategies and benchmarks.

The scope of market research is wide; it extends to various aspects of business environment such as structure of markets, competition, financial analysis, regulations, product, supply and demand, and the state of the economy. For example, one type of analysis called ‘comparative market research,’ involves identifying the similarities and differences between two related products.

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Conducting market research can be a tough undertaking for a company because of one simple fact; most businesses do not know what to look for or where to start. Here are five product marketing research tips that can help businesses carry out an effective plan.

1. Establish the objectives of your research. It’s important to define the problem – before embarking on your research – so that you can lay out clear objectives. This is the most critical step. Begin by asking yourself some questions: what is the problem that needs to be solved? How does your product provide the solution? Who will use your product? What issues need to be addressed? What type of research should I be conducting? How will I use the information that I gather? By answering these questions now you will be able to focus on your research and save time in the future. 2. Collect the research. Now that you’ve asked yourself the right questions it’s time to figure out what you will ask your research participants.  Who makes up the product’s target audience? What specific questions should I ask each group? Should I do a double-blind test of the product?  This research is great for focus-groups, observational studies, surveys and behavioral experiments.

But you can also dive deeper into your research by supplementing it with secondary sources such as: online information, government publications, commercial data, internal sources (sales stats, customer databases, service teams, etc.), books, periodicals, business literature and case studies. Start by carrying out qualitative research (which is more in-depth) to assist you, and then go on from there.

3. Implement the research.

Good marketing research must be scientific… and creative. It should also be objective. Your research should follow a process. It should be conducted in a controlled environment with variables that can be easily identified. Hopefully, the results can be ‘replicated’.

As far as ‘replication’ is concerned, you must take into consideration that people are not so reliable; sometimes they lie, or at least hold back what they think. Others can be reluctant to answer your questions (they can be shy, embarrassed or annoyed), while some just have difficulty articulating their ideas. That’s where creativity kicks in. You can implement different studies, surveys, questions and experiments. If they are done properly, different testing methods can often lead to very similar results.

4. Analyze your information.

Carefully study all the vital information you have gathered. Do you see a trend? What direction does your information point to? Are you disappointed with the product? How did your participants respond to the product? You may discover that your initial assumptions were way off. Or maybe they were right on point. Your product market research should not be conducted in a way that will fulfill your assumptions; rather, it should be used as guidance – to help you make final decisions regarding your product. 5. Finally, Present your findings. Take the calculations, numbers and results of your focus group participants. Combine quantitative and qualitative analytics. Once you have completed your research, now it’s time for you to apply the findings to your product. Your product may need a make-over or you may need to retarget to a different audience. This is where you make the final changes to your product before you release it out into the world.

Product marketing research is essential for developing a business strategy, improving operations and determining your target audience. Just follow these five product marketing research tips and your business will be well on its way to creating a successful product marketing plan.

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Kevin Goldberg