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How new and small businesses can use market research

Running your own business is exciting, motivating, empowering… scary?  

It’s totally normal to feel nervous about being your own boss. In fact, it shows how much you care about what you’re doing, so don’t give yourself a hard time.  

Market research may not be top of your list of things to tick off when you have so much going on, but it can help you massively, arming you with important information to get your decisions right, make your short and long-term aims achievable, and relieving some of that stress you may feel when you’re in the unknown.  

Here we explore some of the ways you can use market research as a small business owner: 

Identify your target markets 

How well do you know your target audience? You probably have an idea of the type of buyer that is interested in your products (or services), but is your understanding backed up by evidence, broken down into characteristics and preferences that will drive your pricing, product development, and marketing? Market research can deliver that insight to you. 

Assess the market demand for your products 

If you’ve taken the leap to start your own business, you likely have a passion for your idea and want it to do well. But are you wearing rose-tinted glasses? Or maybe you have no idea just how successful you’re going to be and aren’t prepared! Using market research to evaluate how much demand there will be for your products or services gives you real insight into how to prepare for the future, helping you plan your workforce and cash flow, or avoiding the financial strain of failure. 

Define your pricing strategy 

Understanding your cost and profit margins, the affordability of your products, as well as how you compare in the marketplace are all vitally important for your success. But pricing strategies cover more than just the price. Your strategy should include things such as when best to push certain products over others, effective promotions, as well as mitigation against things that are out of your control (the recent energy crisis being a big one for small businesses). Market research can provide you with the information you need to make the best, informed price for your product, as well as when, if, and how to fluctuate your pricing for growth or scale.  

Discover which distribution channels work for you 

Whether your business is selling B2C or through a 3rd party, understanding distribution channels is a big task, especially if you are aiming to scale quickly. Market research can provide you with the options for your specific business, the effectiveness and potential risks of the different choices available, as well as what other businesses in your marketplace have done (both good and bad). 

Gather customer feedback and satisfaction levels 

Customer feedback is always important, whether your business is brand new or hundreds of years old. In fact, keeping your finger on the pulse of your customer perceptions will help you pivot when things aren’t being received well, or to maximise what you’re doing well. As a small business, do you have adequate feedback channels in place? Or maybe it’s way down your to-do list. By tapping into market research insights, you can regularly understand what customers think of your products and business and build their loyalty for the long-term.  

Nail down your long-term plans 

While plans will change, and it may be hard to think that your little business will be thriving in 3- or 5-years’ time, getting your long-term plans right now will keep your business on track rather than working in a state of reacting to anything that can happen. Market research can identify emerging trends, anticipate changes in consumer behaviour, and explore expansion opportunities into new markets or product categories. Think big! 

Fancy free market research? 

You may have read this, bought into what market research can do for your business, but then can’t budget for it right now.  

While we are a competitively priced business in general, we have recently joined forces with BIPC (Business & IP Centre) to offer eligible SMEs across Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead a free hour of market research support, with the opportunity to apply for a massive 12-hours funded support for a project designed to make a difference to your business.  If you’re not lucky enough to be based in any of those areas, drop us a line anyway, we’ll certainly be able to suggest a research solution within your budget. 

You don’t need to have a full plan of what your market research will entail, just know your pain points or aims; we’ll take that and create a research project that will provide you with the insight you need, alongside our recommendations on how to get the most out of it.  

For more information, visit our BIPC page where you can apply directly. 

About BIPC  

The BIPC North East is part of the national BIPC network, all operating from within Libraries. They are a free source of information and advice for inventors, start-up businesses, and existing businesses based in the North East of England. They have an array of free and accessible online and offline resources enabling both new and existing businesses to grow from strength to strength, including a friendly and knowledgeable team of 30+ local experts who are on hand to offer free 1-2-1 appointments to discuss a wide range of topics to meet your business needs, ranging from finance and funding, marketing and communication, intellectual property and law and much more. 


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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