Market Research Questions

The primary reason you conduct any market research survey project or put any market research questions together, is so that you can make decisions; for example, should I stay open for 24 hours/7 days a week or will our customers pay more for this potential new feature? These are all good and worthy decisions. But when you take even a closer look, we’re making these decisions because our main objective is to become the obvious choice for that ideal customer. For that to happen and to reach market research goals:

What Market Research Questions should I ask?

  1. Who is our ideal customer?These are typically demographic market research questions such as gender, education level, income level or location.  You can expand these questions to find out your customer’s occupation or if your ideal customer is a parent, pet owner. Don’t skimp on demographics or psychographics.  If anything, get really creative with them. You might consider conducting a survey with nothing but profiling questions that include where your customers shop, or where they prefer to eat. It’s critical to know as much as possible about your ideal customer so that you can begin focusing your marketing decisions around their preferences.
  2. What do they struggle with?Another root set of data that market researchers are searching for within their ideal customer is “what they struggle with.”  What are the 5 to 7 frustrations that they are dealing with when it comes to interacting with our product or service? If you are a golf accessories company and you ask your ideal customer what frustrates them about their golfing experience, you might get responses such as “expensive golf clubs getting wet during a rainstorm.”  If you get enough of those responses, you may think about developing a golf accessory that protects golf clubs in the rain.
  3. What does your ideal customer really WANT?No matter how you phrase the market research questions (and there are countless creative formats) all we really want to know is what our customer will actually purchase as a solution.  What is it that they WANT? Of course, they’re NOT going to say that they want something that doesn’t exist yet — in the 1960’s the average person would NOT have known that they wanted a microwave. They wanted hot food fast. One good way to get at these wants is to give your respondents some examples of product offerings and combinations and see how they rate them.
  4. What sets you apart from your competition?Competitive analysis and benchmarking is critical if you want to increase the profitability of your product and build your brand. An effective way to measure or identify differentiators or competitive advantage is to ask Customer Satisfaction questions. The key to asking these kinds of market research questions is getting the attributes just right.  For example “How important is it that your tires have a run-flat safety feature?” instead of asking “How important is it that your car has tires.”
  5. What benefits do your customers perceive?Because we all choose and purchase based on emotion — it’s important to understand specifically, what emotional benefits our customers receive from our products and services.  The more we connect with our customers on an emotional level and provide that benefit — the more likely they are to choose us. This is an ideal place to use matrix questions that rate the degree to which customers agree or disagree with a variety of “benefit” statements.  Here is an example “I can count on Service X to pull me out of a bind.”
  6. Who is currently buying from us?A very important research metric to track is the “who” is currently buying a product or a service from you. Deriving a pattern from the current purchasing population, helps you target and market to a similar potential demographic. This also is an ideal place to use demographic questions extensively but it also helps if other factors like geographical metrics are tracked. You don’t want to be ignoring your existing customer base and also be smart and agile in attracting new business to your brand.
  7. Why are other people not buying from us?Whilst it is imperative to know who is your potential customer or map your existing customer base, it is very important for you to find out who is not buying from you. This information is important to understand if there are shortcomings in a product or service and at what milestone do customers drop out of the purchasing process. This also helps to identify in the way your business is conducted, if additional training is required to make a sale or if your product or service lacks in quality. By understanding why people are not buying from you also helps monitor if there is something fundamentally wrong in what you are offering to the masses.
  8. Who can buy from us in the future?It is a known fact that is about 10x more expensive to create a new customer rather than to maintain the one you currently have. That however is no reason to not aim for new business. It is therefore important to have a clear picture of your potential future business. Targeting potential customers, is a mix of customer demographics that have purchased from you in the past and a mix of demographics you advertise and market to. It is therefore important to have a well-rounded product or solution. For example, since your barbecue sauces and rubs are famous and widely used in the midwest does not mean they cannot be bought in Southern States.
  9. Why do people buy from you? What value or need does it fulfill?Customers only buy from you because of a perceived value. This value is either what you depict to potential customers or repeat customers have been privy to the value of your product or service. Customers also make a purchase because of the trust they have either in the product or service or the brand or sometimes even certain individuals. It is therefore important that you understand the value of your brand and stick to the morals and ethics of delivering high quality to ensure that the perceived and actual brand quotient is very high. The other reason why customers purchase from you is if their need is fulfilled by what you have on offer. This could either be a direct or an indirect need.
  10. What would make you a perfect brand?No brand can be perfect! But you can surely be close to perfect. What this means is everything about your product or service is easy to use, intuitive, is value for money, scalable and ancillary support is impeccable. All of this is obviously immaterial if the product does not solve a real problem or make life easier for the customer. Having a very high customer oriented focus gives your brand a positive ring and becomes increasingly the go-to brand. You can use a simple Net Promoter Score question to understand how referrable is your brand and who are the promoters and detractors of your brand.
  11. What single aspect about your brand makes it stand out and makes clients trust you?People buy from you or transact with you mostly when there is a high trust factor. Very rarely is the purchasing decision purely based on need or ease of access. To identify and build on that one factor that makes you a preferred buying choice over your competitors is very important. You can map preferred aspects of your brand to age, sex, geographical location, financial limitations etc. because each of those factors can appeal to your brand differently. It is important that you identify and fortify those aspects of your business. Your brand can also be preferred because of other factors like personnel, customer service, ethos and perception amongst peers, consumers and the society alike. Abercrombie & Fitch was a respected brand but lost a lot of market share and goodwill due to CEO’s words in one isolated incident. It takes lots of work and time to build trust but takes none to lose all of it!
  12. What is the best way to communicate with the kind of people you are trying to reach out to?What’s caused the downfall for a lot of brands is the inability to reach out to target customers despite their product or service being impeccable. Not knowing how to reach your target audience or potential customer makes all your hardwork go down the drain. For example, if a new life saving drug is making its way to the market but medical professionals and doctors don’t know about it or how to administer it and its benefits, about 20 years of work goes down the drain. You need to identify the right channels and avenues to reach out to the people that will consume your product or service.
  13. What do customers make of your product and/or service line?There are a few brands that have one product or service and that rakes in the customers and money for them because the nature of the product or service. But most brands aren’t this way! They would need to branch out into multiple products or services or very often, a mix of both. It is therefore important to understand the value of your products and/or services. It is imperative to know if they solve a problem a customer has or make life easier for the customer or any other such reason. This helps in consolidating the customer base.
  14. What improvements could be made to your products or services to have a wider reach?A product or a service has never achieved the maximum number of customers it can get. There always is someone who could use your product or service; maybe not in the form that it currently is but there is scope to scale. This makes it so much more important to collect periodic feedback on what additions your current customer base would like to see in your brand and what can bring in new customers from your competitors. Chipping away at deadwood features and making increased usability tweaks increases the adoption and use of your product and service.
  15. What product or service improvements can be made to ensure a superior user experience?Understanding service or product stagnation and imitation serves as a perfect segway to this question. In a “what’s new?” hungry market this is “THE” question to ask. Most of your customers aren’t looking for out of this world, unimagined, unforeseeable products or services. They’re looking for simple solutions that would solve their day to day problems. Your customers will not know what next big thing you should launch but they will know their frustrations and struggles. It is essential to frame your survey question right, instead of asking “what improvements can we make to our product or service?” , ask “what is your current struggle in your business?”, “what service would improve the quality of your business?”. Approach from a point of “what can we do for you?” rather than “what can we do for our service or product?”. The key to bundling service or product is adding value to your customers’ business. It’s a sure way to deliver value, build trust and retain a loyal customer base.
  16. What is the right price to charge?Pricing a product or service is one of the most important aspects of your business. Pricing right can decide the revenue, brand perception, profitability and adoption of the product or service. Pricing too slow has a negative connotation and may increase in bringing in a lower revenue. Pricing high gives the feeling of being elite and then the profitability and revenue hinges on the factors of per unit adoption rather than a very high adoption. Pricing just right is a myth – what someone finds cheap, someone else could find expensive. Where someone finds your product or service value for money, others may find it exorbitant. Hence, it is important to collect extensive feedback from your existing and potential customers about what they think is an ideal price to play. It is also important to conduct a due diligence of competitors to map how they price versus the service and product features they provide. All of these factors will help you come close to an “ideal price” to charge.
  17. What is the vision for the brand?A vision for a brand dictates the level the brand aspires to be and wants to scale up to be. Apple is now a preferred phone because the vision was to be an experience, not a device. The device is the means to ensuring that vision. They wanted to make the ecosystem so robust that any device you use, that familiarity and ease of use is standardized but also stonewall easy. Despite being expensive and facing ridicule during early days due to the ecosystem being different, they are now a one trillion behemoth, more than the GDP of some countries, due to having a vision for the brand.
  18. What is the way to ensure you reach that vision?A vision is easy to have but tough to follow through on. This is because your vision may see many roadblocks and may not be the current flavor of the market; but it is the right thing to stick with it. Innovate in your product and service lines by taking into consideration as to what your customers want and need and things they themselves don’t know that they need. Despite enduring hardships, if you stick to your vision, it is a lot easier to use that as a launchpad for being an immaculate and preferred brand.
  19. What should the brand branch out into to avoid stagnation or imitation?While launching a product or service, it’s essential to understand where your competitors stand on the same product type or service line. How soon can they catch up to you and imitate your service or product? Stagnation, on the other hand, is what brings the ultimate demise of a brand, product or service line. With little innovation and competitors saturating the market by imitating your product or service line, you’ll soon see customer base dwindle. To ensure, your customers don’t drop out the key question to ask is “What next?”. The best way to innovate or bundle your product or service is to understand what your customers struggle with and what value they are looking for. For example, Sony is known for its PlayStations but competitors like Xbox don’t take long to catch up to their new products. How Sony does manage to stay ahead of the market is by constantly branching into new products and services.
  20. What bundled service or product that you can offer in conjunction with yours?Good partnerships are hard to come by, strategic ones are even harder. This question tackles two of your problems, how to offer  something new to your customers and how to reduce competitors in market. Your bundled service or product though has to make sense to the use, should complement your brand and cannot be an operational and logistical nightmare for your brand which then makes it counter-productive. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram to consolidate on social images and short content rich video, is a strategic initiative to increase customer base as well as reduce competition at the same time. The key to building strong brand partnerships is to ensure your vision and product values align. Summing up, offering a bundled service or product in partnership will not only retain existing customer base but also attract and increase new customers.

No matter why you are conducting a survey, you’ll find these 20 questions at the core of “WHY” you want to know. Remember, your respondents will read or spend time with absolutely ANYTHING as long as they are at the center of it.  Be sure to keep these 20 questions in mind when creating your survey and everyone involved will save time, aggravation and money.

Beyond these 20 market research questions, you should also look at how to conduct market research surveys in the most effective way possible and the fundamentals of market research studies. They will give you an idea of how to gather insights you did not even think of!

Know more about market research techniques:

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