Observe, Learn & Know
You want to know your market inside out. Ideally, you’re moving around in your market like an Italian pizza car on the streets of Rome. You know what’s happening, you don’t need a map. You know what’s missing on the market, you know the problem that people are having and you know what the solution to the problem is. You know who your competitors are and what you do differently. You also know the people that are buying your product. You may have a feeling of where the trends are going.
You will naturally gain more knowledge of your market while building your business. Don’t worry about not knowing everything. Nonetheless, doing research from the beginning on and learning about your field with the goal of becoming an expert will give you more confidence to create your brand strategy.
Research is specifically important to big companies developing a new product to cut down the risk of creating a failure. With research, you can get an idea of how much money you could be making or evaluate if there’s even a chance for people liking it. If you’re building a company that has plenty of competition already, you’re most likely assured that “yes, there is a market for what I’m selling.” That’s good. Examples are shoe stores, bookstores, non-profit platforms, places to buy Christmas trees in the winter. If you are building a completely new product or you want to specialize in a specific segment, for example, an online shoe store selling heels to men, you want to do research if your idea is a market fit, meaning if people will take you up on your offer.
Secondary Branding Market Research
Is there a trend or a study that substantiates the problem your brand is solving? Are you actually selling heels to men? Find a study that shows men are becoming more interested in wearing heels these days. If you can support it with some numbers, great! How big is the market for men’s heels? How has it grown over the past years? Are there estimates on future growth? What are men that are interested in heels also interested in? How much money do they spend on a pair of heels, how often are they buying them? What publications do they read? What other brands are they buying currently and for what reasons? There are no right or wrong questions. The goal is you knowing more about your territory.
Make sure to take research only from credible sources into consideration. Studies should be cited properly. A good starting point is to search for articles in the New York Times or other trustworthy publications.
Say it in a very factual manner:
“A recent study shows that 30% of all men between the age of 19 and 29 care about owning a pair of heels.” (Source xyz, published 11/2014)
“Trend researchers find that a new generation of men is on the rise: men who identify with clothing traditionally worn by women.” (Source xyz, published 10/2015)
All of your research should be as timely as possible. Markets and trends can change quickly.
A good practice is to read one article a day (not the listicle stuff, but the substantial ones) about your market or your customers. Follow the companies in your field that are successful on social media. Check out their customers (who you want to have) and dive into their world: 10 minutes of research, 20 minutes of thinking or writing about your learnings per day. Don’t get lost, you have other important things to do when building a business.
Scrappy Primary Market Research
If you can’t find any studies or articles, you may do some research yourself by conducting a survey with your existing customers or others who you think could be your potential customers. Do note that the outcome of a survey, or, in fact any research, should not be the only reason why you’re doing anything with your brand. As for surveys, for example, there are too many layers of things that go wrong when doing it in a scrappy way: misunderstood questions, not the right questions, the nature of people wanting to be helpful and responding with things that are simply not true.
You can use a tool like surveymonkey, limit your questionnaire to 10 questions and make it multiple choice if you have the time to analyze the data of hundreds of people. Make the questions open if you want to use the answers as sources of inspiration, which is what I recommend using that type of research for.
One final thing: talk to people. Next time you’re the loner at a bar talk about shoe stores. Don’t tell your new companion what you’re doing, just see if you can get any insights from real people by being a good listener.
If you forgot everything you just read, just remember this: Work in a field that you’re passionate about, become an expert in your market and trust your gut.
The more you know about your market and customer, the more you’ll know how to position your brand.
Market research for branding matters because:
Understand your target audience better: what’s important to them? What do they read? How do they talk?
Understand your industry better: What are their buzzwords? Who are your competitors, and how do they speak?
Understand your product better: How does your product compare to others?
Get started now with our DIY Brand Strategy workshop.