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  • Writer's pictureKristin Harper

5 Reasons Why Your Business Can't Afford to Skip Market Research

Asian young man shopping for snacks in a

In the ever-evolving arena of business, knowledge reigns supreme. For any venture to flourish, it must first comprehend the landscape of its industry and its standing within it. Enter market research: The backbone of strategic business decisions and the beacon that guides companies toward success. Without a doubt, a market research endeavor is a significant investment, both in terms of effort and resources, and often, it's undervalued or overlooked. Yet, forsaking this critical step can be the downfall of even the most promising initiatives.


The failure to leverage market research has led companies astray, spawning legendary blunders that serve as cautionary tales. Products that missed the mark, ad campaigns that flopped, and businesses that crumbled under the weight of unforeseen market shifts—all could have been avoided or mitigated with the insights market research provides.

But why is market research so vital? Below, we delve into five substantial reasons why skimping on this foundational pillar is a grave mistake.


1. Ignoring Your Customer's Needs and Wants

Market research is to consumer insight, what a compass is to a hiker in a dense forest—it points the way, ensuring you never lose your direction. By diving deep into the preferences, dislikes, and behavior patterns of your audience, market research enables you to tailor your products, services, and marketing campaigns to meet specific consumer needs. Understanding where your customers are coming from, why they choose your brand, or why they don't, is non-negotiable.


The Cost of Ignorance

The tragic and historic story of the Ford Edsel serves as a prime example. Launched in the late 1950s, the Edsel was a high-profile failure, mainly due to a lack of market research. With a design and features that were out of touch with the public's taste, the car was a financial disaster for Ford, costing them a staggering $250 million.


Black and white photo of a 1958 Edsel convertible.
A 1958 Edsel convertible made by FordUnderwood Archives / Getty Images

2. Failing to Uncover Competitive Advantages

It's an understatement to say that competition in business is fierce. Market research allows you to stay one step ahead by identifying gaps in the market or underutilized opportunities where you can excel. By examining the strategies and shortcomings of your competitors, you can craft your approach to emphasize your strengths.


A Walmart Tale

Walmart's growth and dominance were fueled by extensive market research among other retail competitors. The company leveraged data analytics even before it became a household term. Walmart used market research to understand consumer behavior and preferences, leading to the establishment of a massive retail presence and the "Everyday low prices" concept that revolutionized the industry.


3. Crafting a Generic Value Proposition

How do you make your product or service stand out in a crowded marketplace? The answer lies in crafting an irresistible value proposition. A well-defined value proposition is the lifeblood of your sales and marketing strategies, influencing the messaging that resonates with your customers. Market research helps you articulate your value proposition by identifying the unique selling points that matter most to your audience.

Apple logo with the words "Think different."


Apple: The Master of Perception

Apple's "Think Different" campaign is a classic case in point. By employing market research to understand the aspirations and attitudes of its target market, Apple created a compelling narrative that elevated its brand above mere product features.


4. Insufficient Market Research

Marketing is as much science as it is art, and provides the statistical backbone you need to fine-tune your marketing endeavors. From selecting the right channels to expanding into adjacent categories, data-driven insights and conducting sufficient market research at every step of the innovation journey enables you to implement strategies that are more likely to resonate with your brand audience and yield a higher return on investment.


Toothpaste tube with blue toothpaste squirting out. Pond's logo at top.

Unilever’s Pond’s Toothpaste Misstep

Pond’s is one of America’s oldest cosmetics brands, and when the team expanded the brand into the toothpaste category, its customers couldn’t get on board. They so strongly associated Pond’s with beauty and skincare products that they didn’t accept this line extension. The toothpaste was eventually pulled off the shelves.


5. Resting on Your Laurels

Businesses do not operate in a vacuum. The market is dynamic, with twists and turns that can make or break a company's fortunes. Market research acts as your risk management tool, providing valuable insights into consumer trends, economic forecasts, and competitive landscapes. Armed with this knowledge, your business can make informed decisions, reducing the impact of unforeseen market shifts.


Blockbuster's Misreading of Market Trends


Blockbuster's failure to adapt to the rise of digital media is a classic case of market research negligence. Focused on its lucrative late fee model, Blockbuster ignored customer dissatisfaction and the rising popularity of digital streaming services. By the time the company attempted to make the shift, it was too late, and the once-dominant video rental chain filed for bankruptcy.


Meme art - Coffee mug with the wording "Don't Be Like Blockbuster"

Market research is more than just statistics and analytics; it's a cornerstone of business acumen. In a world where markets are increasingly volatile and consumer preferences ever-changing, the companies that will thrive are those that embrace the power of knowledge. They understand that market research is not a luxury—it's a lifeline, guiding their every move toward stability and success.


Without market research, companies gamble with their future. Yet, for those who recognize and harness the power of market research, the outcome is far more certain. They map out the route, anticipate the obstacles, and arrive at their destination not by chance, but by design.


In this modern business landscape, it's clear that the adage "know your market" holds truer than ever. So, to the businesses teetering on the edge of whether to invest in market research: understand that the risk is not in conducting this vital task but in neglecting to do so. Your competitors may be reading the market data as we speak. The question is, will you join them at the forefront of industry innovation, or be left behind to ponder what went wrong?


Ten Tips to Select a Market Research Company

To ensure that the insights gained from market research are actionable and reliable, decision-makers need to carefully select a market research company that embodies a combination of critical attributes:


  1. Expertise and Experience: Look for a company with a proven track record in your specific industry, understanding the challenges and dynamics of your market.

  2. Quality and Depth of Data: A market research firm must offer access to comprehensive and high-quality data sources to inform accurate insights.

  3. Analytical Rigor: The ability to not only collect but also interpret data effectively, offering meaningful analysis and recommendations is essential.

  4. Advanced Methodologies: Cutting-edge research methodologies and tools that provide a competitive edge in gathering and analyzing data should be a priority.

  5. Customization and Flexibility: The firm should be willing to tailor research methodologies to fit your unique business needs and be adaptable to changing market conditions.

  6. Clear Communication: Ensure the company communicates findings and data in a clear, understandable manner without overcomplicated jargon.

  7. Integrity and Transparency: Transparency about research processes and integrity in delivering unbiased findings are non-negotiable to make informed decisions.

  8. Timeliness: The ability to deliver valuable insights within a reasonable timeframe is crucial, enabling businesses to act on the information while it's most relevant.

  9. Client Focus: A customer-centric approach that focuses on your specific outcomes and goals will ensure the research aligns with your strategic objectives.

  10. Strategic Partnership: Ideally, the market research company should function as a strategic partner, offering not just data, but guidance in applying insights to drive business growth.

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Driven to Succeed is an award-winning market research and consulting firm that connects the dots to unleash growth for mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands. We are powered by a team with multiple zones of genius who use empathy, intuition, and insights to help brands grow, and people thrive. Our expertise includes research, analytics, brand management, and marketing in Consumer Packaged Goods, Healthcare Biopharma, Food & Beverage, Financial Services, and beyond. Learn more at https://www.DriventoSucceedLLC.com and schedule a time to connect.


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