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How to Do Market Research

With effective market research, you can determine the need for your service, a product's likelihood to sell, target-market demographics, and desirable store locations. There are numerous ways to uncover this information—from online research to focus groups to counting customers. To help you meet your target market's needs, we've put together a collection of our best market-research articles and resources.
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Research Primer

What's market research? And why must you do it? Here are two articles that offer a general overview on the topic.

Sources and Techniques for Your Strategic Planning Efforts
Perform the market and competitive studies that are necessary to equip your team with the information it needs to make good decisions.

New to the Market

Research plays a key part in knowing which of your new business ideas will fly in the marketplace.

Hitting the Market
To be successful, you have to know your potential customers inside out. One entrepreneur reflects on the essentials of market research.
Introducing New Products
Increase the odds of a successful launch for your product.
High Concept: Tapping a New Market
Will new features and pumped-up distribution enable a niche product to reach the masses?

Bootstrapping

You don't need big bucks to do a little research. Swipe these strategies from successful CEOs and marketing experts.

Market Research on the Cheap
Using students to determine whether to launch a new product was a cheap and effective form of research for this bootstrapping entrepreneur.
I'm starting a business but have no market research budget. What are some inexpensive techniques?
Guerrilla marketer Jay Conrad Levinson offers on- and offline methods.
How can I find an affordable market research service?
There are a number of ways to acquire both quantitative and qualitative primary research for less.

Feedback

Want to know if your next product will fly? Ask existing customers and recruit prospective ones to let you know.

A Do-It-Yourself Customer Panel
Do you want to put some bang into your market research without spending the big bucks? Try conducting your own customer panel.
Will They Bite?
Here's how Bite Shoes uses Web-based focus groups to help market its new products.
Every Click They Make
Glean customer data from your Web site using server logs, questionnaires, E-mail discussion lists, and bulletin boards.

Demographics

Target your market with a thorough knowledge of whom it comprises.

Grist: Don't Read the Business Pages
You can learn a lot about consumers by reading the newspaper.
The Six Costliest Mistakes You Can Make in Marketing to Women
The reality is that women are the primary consumers in the United States. Are you doing all you can to reach this market?
Getting the Dirt on Your Market
New location? Get market information, including population density, demographics, and the number and type of local businesses.

Competitive Intelligence

Snoop around competitor's sites, stores, and customers to help develop your edge.

Competitive Intelligence on a Shoestring
You can learn a lot by researching online and targeting the right people.
The Dirtbag Demographic
Douglas Canning, cofounder of, SanFranciso-based Dirtbag Clothing, used competitor's Web sites to research retail locations that he could pitch to carry his Dirtbag Clothing line.
Spies Like Us
Staples CEO Tom Stemberg acts as a mystery shopper at his competitors' stores and his own. This Q&A reveals how he gets the most out of his visits -- and what he's has learned.
Get a Local Look at Your Competition
Shop at competitors' stores, count their customers, and talk to owners of similar businesses in noncompetitive areas

Research Woes

Learn from the mistakes other CEOs have made when it comes to market research.

Grandma Got Run Over by Bad Research
Flawed market research did in this retail-clothing store.
John J. Kilcullen: My Biggest Mistake
The creator of the Dummies series of how-to books discusses the importance of collecting relevant customer data.
Carlos Alvarez: My Biggest Mistake
The chairman and CEO of the Gambrinus Co. -- an importer of beer -- reveals his biggest business mistake: overconfidence in his brand's ability to sell without market research.




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