Marketers face ever greater pressure to retain and grow sales from existing customers, while trying to maximise opportunities from new ones. Your organisation may have a good understanding of market share, and sales figures may provide a measure of success, but are there aspects of your existing customers' behaviour that you need to understand in more detail? Do you know how potential customers view your brand or product?

Market assessment research can help you focus on the competitive strengths and weaknesses of your product or service within your target market, identify opportunities to improve your offering, and help you ensure marketing strategies are correctly positioned to achieve maximum relevance and impact.

Below are a number of practical tips for conducting a successful market assessment study. They will help you create a defined market position for your brand, develop profitable products and services and improve your bottom line.

1. Define your market

Be precise about the market you want to assess. Consider where the bulk of your business comes from at the moment, and/or where you realistically have opportunities to grow, and focus your resources. Don't dilute the power of the research to help strengthen your position in this core base by trying to canvass the whole world.

2. Who to survey?

To provide a reliable overview of your competitive position, the research must be based on a representative sample of the market you have defined. This means going beyond your own customers and contacts. It can be tempting to use in-house marketing databases for this type of project, but that will provide a skewed result, unless you know for certain that you hold records of all the relevant players. If you only measure awareness of your brand among people who already receive communications from you, you may over-estimate your position relative to your competitors. Use an independent, comprehensive business list to sample from, and you will obtain a...

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