December 18, 2009

Market Research for your company.

As a marketer, board member, and entrepreneur in food companies, I've spent my fair share of time digging out from common pitfalls entrepreneurs make. In my consulting with food entrepreneurs, I've observed many entrepreneurs encounter the same mistakes in their quest for food success. By far, the most prevalent of these traps, particularly among entrepreneurs with a chef or agriculture background, is mistaking the ability to build or grow a product with the ability to satisfy a market need. Like you trying to find the perfect item for your familys needs or self, most customers are seeking the product that is "just right" for them. For you, the challenge is to understand what makes a product "just right enough" to satisfy the needs of a large enough group of consumers so that one can claim there is a sizeable market to address. I've found over the years that even struggling entrepreneurs without much of a budget can successfully perform quality research if they are creative, resourceful and brave. You are asking potential consumers about their preferences and likes. Entrepreneurs on a budget may feel unable to apply formal market research techniques, but a simple four-step process can be effective: 1. Determine how to perform the research (one-on-one interviews, focus groups, surveys). 2. Develop the research format (interview questions, survey questionnaire, hands-on tasks, email). 3. Identify and recruit participants. Give them free samples to participate. 4. Take Action: What will be done with the results of the research? The market of your business will dictate the most appropriate approach. If your product is for a highly targeted group of category managers and mass retailer buyers, start by identifying the type of person you expect to sell to and engage in a mock sales call to understand what such people find interesting in presentations. If your product is aimed at a mass market, it may be more beneficial to recruit small numbers of people for focus groups until you have a feel for the market, and then validate it further using a survey. Research Enables Decision-Making The market research process is a prelude to selling. It teaches you a great deal about what you will need to know to develop your offering for the market and whether your offering is even worth developing. A positive and aggressive attitude towards market research enables entrepreneurs to make that most critical of decisions: Should I spend the next several years of my life on this business? If you have decided to be a food entrepreneur, then also decide to become a market researcher. Ultimately, the two are inseparable. What actions are you taking to grow your business? Send a note or comments to also, follow me on Twitter I want to hear about your success!
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