Lesson 5

Understand Your Audience Through Market Research

Grasping an audience’s expectations seems like an easy task. All you must do is ask them, and you’ll have your answer. While this task might appear straightforward, the reality of uncovering these answers is a much more significant challenge.

Before understanding a specific audience, you must first come to terms with the broader market you’re going to be operating in. This goes beyond simply finding what customers want. You might assume that branding doesn’t really need this in-depth knowledge of market trends and preferences. However, knowing the ecosystem you’re entering is not only useful for creating a powerful brand, it’s a vital source of information.

To understand your audience, you need to consider your market. To comprehend what your product is solving, you need to know what the problem is, and why the existing services aren’t meeting those needs.

Finding pain points, choosing a target audience, and focusing your message are all part of this same puzzle and it all starts with market research.

Think about it this way: if your target audience and communications strategy are your answers, market research is the way you unearth the right questions to ask.

Let’s take a deeper look at market research to see how it can enhance your branding efforts.

“By knowing what your customers want but don’t have,
you can find better ways to target your branding
and marketing efforts.

Importance of a Business Logo

What is Market Research?

At its core market research is about gathering information. The goal is to find data that covers every aspect of a market and turn it into actionable results. This sounds largely abstract, but is actually quite concise.

Market research looks for three main kinds of information:

People who are buying products in the market, the companies that are already selling those products, and major trends and tendencies the market itself is experiencing.

These, of course, can be broken down into more specific sub-sections, but let’s tackle each on a broader level first.

Existing Companies

Let’s say you’re developed a revolutionary new smartphone. You’re ready to start selling your brilliant new device and earn billions of dollars, but quickly run headlong into one large problem. When you walk into the electronics store to sell your phone, you see that there’s already hundreds of other smartphones and they all look fairly similar.

After a few weeks, you still haven’t been able to move that many phones, while competitors are still raking in cash by the thousands. What’s the problem? You’re entering a heavily saturated market full of competition that already meets the lion’s share of consumer needs.

It’s crucial to understand the status quo before entering a new market. This means evaluating all the companies selling comparable products, determining how they are unique, and finally how they could take customers from you. Most importantly, assessing your competition can help you figure out how to differentiate your brand along with your products or services.

The Consumers

Let’s go back to the smartphone example. The level of competition is one aspect of your hypothetically flagging sales. The other important element is the fact that consumers don’t see a need for your product. If they don’t think they need what you’re selling, no number of great products will make them buy into the idea. This is where market research truly shines.

When you gather data on the market, you’re trying to answer two questions about consumers: What do they want? And, what are they not receiving?

Your goal with market research is to appraise what is lacking in the industry you’re entering. If your smartphone can solve a specific problem, customers experience with existing options, they’ll be interested in what you’re offering. This way, you can focus your branding efforts on highlighting your uniqueness while targeting existing pain points to create a more appealing brand.

Market Trends

This last section is somewhat more abstract, but still feeds directly into what your brand ultimately accomplishes. One of the area where Apple excels that helps keep them at the top of the industry is understanding where the market is heading. By successfully adapting to emerging trends and tendencies while continuing to focus on innovation, Apple maintains its relevance thanks to products that appear to be groundbreaking.

Market trends can focus on a number of attributes ranging from innovative technologies, changes in laws and regulations, evolving consumer preferences, and more. Your brand can gain an enormous advantage by realizing how these trends are progressing and adapting accordingly. Placing yourself at the forefront of an industry is always a good policy because it gives you the first mover advantage, letting you corner the market for the new trend while your competitors struggle to catch up.

Applying the Insights From Market Research

Market research is a fantastic tool you can use to develop an appealing product, but it’s only the beginning of the process. In the end, this research does one thing: produce data through you brand analytics. This by itself is a great resource, but applying it to your brand is difficult if you don’t translate these nuggets into valuable insights.

One of the most important steps in your research process is converting the information you collect into actionable results. Once you gain a thorough understanding your competition, you can transform that information into strategies for differentiating your product or service. If other smartphones have clunky user interfaces, your brand can stand out by offering a clean and streamlined option.

By knowing what your customers want but don’t have, you can find better ways to target your branding and marketing efforts. Highlight these pain points and show your consumers what they could be getting with your service. More importantly, you’ll comprehend exactly which audiences to target to maximize results.

Your brand reflects your company, and your products and services should always be at the forefront. By appreciating your market and audience, you can employ the insights derived from research to target consumers and highlight the parts of your message that resonate most. Market research can help you identify these areas and design a more effective branding strategy.

Now that you know what market research is all about, check out Chapter 6 to learn how to convert your research efforts into a well-crafted message!

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