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BEST PRACTICE: Getting the most from market research

In business, information is key to everything and carries a very definite competitive advantage. Whether you need to assess the success of a new widget or work out how your business is doing generally, knowledge of your customers' opinions is hugely valuable. For SMEs market research is vital – something that should be exploited to make fundamental decisions about how and where to grow the business.

Market research can be conducted on an ad hoc basis or as a continuous assessment of the business. Occasional or one-off research is important for developing new products or services. Customers are asked what works best, what appeals, etc., so that when launched the product/service is as close to customer requirements as possible.