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Leading Edge Management Consultancy Limited

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we are planning to make a substantial capital investment but is this the right thing to do?

Accountants can view market research as a luxury, or even an unnecessary expense, especially when theres the smallest hint of cost-pressure. But, are you prepared to take a risk by investing in new product development or a launch, without defining what the demand is? Focused market research, of the right kind, can provide a powerful objective view from customers and prospective customers into the industry youre in. This will give you statistically reliable data, and the insight needed to put marketing choices and business decisions on a sound commercial footing.

Putting the research in the hands of third party professionals can avoid market research providing only the answers that the management wants, or result in me-too products and a lack of innovation. There are however, specific techniques that can deliver sound information for strategic and tactical decision-making. Badly constructed research may merely reflect what has happened in the past, which is no guide to the future.

Also, its not just the data that research delivers which is important, its the interpretation as well. The basic top-line results may provide a certain level of information, but understanding what the results are telling you is both more interesting and enlightening.

So, how do you convince the money gate-keepers that market research is necessary?

  • Firstly, focus on the issues and choose the right kind of research methodology, as different methods will achieve different results. The table below outlines some typical scenarios and suggests methods of approach to produce the insight required.
Possible Scenario Suggested research methodology
Branding: brand rationalisation, brand values, brand awareness Internal survey to establish beliefs and attitudes. External research to determine expectations, perceptions, attributes and attitudes. Analysis will indicate whether conflict exists and if so, the risk involved in the proposed strategy
Customer satisfaction Internal survey to establish the 'moments of truth' which are then tested against perceptions and expectations amongst customers to achieve benchmarking and highlight areas for improvement.
New Product Development & investment decisions Combination of field research and desk research to identify possible interest levels, buying behaviour and market trends. Competitor research to evaluate any gaps, strengths, and weaknesses.
Diversification & new market penetration Combination of field research and focus groups, to draw out the main enablers, barriers, drivers attitudes and perceptions, including procurement processes and distribution channels. Field research is used to establish hypotheses that are then tested at a focus group. Further field research may be conducted to affirm the findings more quantitatively.
  • Secondly, appraise whether you can conduct the work in-house or, whether engaging a professional consultancy may be a more time-effective, cost-effective approach. A third party can also enhance the credibility of results, as they are usually perceived as being more objective and less self-serving than research conducted in-house.

  • Thirdly, you should write a research brief, gain tenders and proposals, and decide on which avenue to go down. You could use our How to brief a consultant page as a starter.

  • Fourthly, put together a business case outlining the reasons for carrying out the study, what you aim to achieve from it, and the consequences of inaction. If you can provide a cost/benefit analysis, so much the better. After all, thats the language the finance men will understand.

We have had a great deal of experience of these research techniques, and can advise you on which one would be the best approach for your project. Can you really afford NOT to do it?

Case Study - Market Research

A well-established brick manufacturer wanted to assess whether the capital outlay required for a new plant would be justified by the extra revenue derived from diversification into a new product. They felt this diversification was necessary to offset the future effects of a maturing brick market.

We were tasked with researching demand for this new product across domestic and commercial sectors, and to assess the level of interest and potential demand. We were also asked to identify the prime distribution channels, probable price range, and to suggest a format for the new range. In addition, we reviewed the main marketing and service issues affecting these sectors including market perceptions of the main players. This would aid strategic and tactical planning. We achieved our results using quantitative and qualitative research in the form of telephone and face to face interviews, across an 80-strong sample of specifiers and suppliers throughout the country. The findings were supported by further desk research into market conditions and competitor profiles.

What our clients have said when using us Market Research:

  • "I would have no hesitation in recommending Leading Edge to other non-competing organisations."
  • "They identified areas that we hadn't considered before."
  • "Leading Edge were most professional."

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