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Do your market research

“Market research is an orderly, objective way of gathering and analyzing detailed and current market information about your target audience, competition, market environment and consumer trends that may affect your business goals,” says Jeewani Fernando, provincial consumer market analyst with the Alberta government. “All businesses, existing and new, large and small, can benefit from current market research. Market research can give business owners critical insights to help them make more informed business decisions.”

Market research can make a difference in three key areas:

  • Know before you go. Market research allows you to better identify potential opportunities and pitfalls for your business. If your idea is for a relatively low-risk enterprise, you may need minimal market research, however if the new enterprise idea is higher in risk, you may want more detailed market research.
  • Sell your idea. Many lenders or investors want you to demonstrate that you understand the markets that your business will enter. Market research helps you substantiate your ideas and assumptions and make a case for why your business and products will be successful.
  • Strategies based on accurate information. Market research can help develop marketing objectives as well as give you a way to measure the success of your marketing activities.

Market research is not a one-time activity, but rather should be done on an ongoing basis. Businesses should conduct research whenever they face a major opportunity or decision. Changes in markets, competition, technology and customers will also drive how a product or service may evolve. These changes may trigger the need for further market research. Research can also help refine product traits, price and even help estimate sales volume.

“Market research can be the make or break in determining the success of a new product or market,” explains Fernando. “Small businesses often think that market research is for big companies with big budgets, but that is not true. Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation is hosting Market Research 101, a webinar that aims to inform agri-processing businesses in Alberta on how to do market research yourself and where to find data to support the decision-making process.”

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