“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” -Zora Neale Hurston
What if tomorrow your best customers were in charge of your business? That’s right: you’re out, they’re in. Your CEO is now the customer whose loyalty card whizzes like a finely oiled European sports car. And your management team has been replaced by a cadre of heavy users, students of every nuance of your business.
Ask yourself: What would they change? And further: Why? After all, what is it that makes these customers choose you over a bevy of competitors, time and time again? And of greater import: What do you need to do in order to continue to earn their allegiance in an increasingly competitive marketplace?
Far too often, the term “market research” conjurs images of clichéd focus groups from 1980s romantic comedies, which is unfortunate given that there have never been more tools and options available to gain meaningful insights into your relationship with consumers.
So, whether you are considering a formal quantitative study (e.g., online survey) or a more informal qualitative examination (e.g., direct interviews with customers), here are 23 market research topics to help you mine for inspiration.
Key Drivers: Where’s the Love?
Start by taking a “fresh eyes” look at your brand vs. its competitors through the eyes of your customers.
Further still, look at the life cycle of your brand.
Key Barriers: Where’s the Hate?
OK, maybe hate’s too strong a word…or maybe it’s not. So, where are the areas that you’re, well, deficient? Lacking? Frustrating consumers and putting off prospects?
Dig deep into your competition as well.
Key Opportunities: Where Are the White Spaces?
Create a culture that doesn’t just seek insights for drivers and barriers, but that also engages consumers in a discussion around “what’s possible” together. While Starbucks has gained a great deal of acclaim for its “My Starbucks Idea” campaign, you don’t need a fancy microsite or social media campaign to ask your customers to help you build a better mousetrap. While consumers are far from experts at predicting their own future behavior, they can certainly be a fountainhead of inspiration for potential white spaces.
Dig deep for incremental gains, large and small alike. And listen hard--because the answers are often found in the spaces between the words.