Tag Archives: target market

Market Research

Market Research

Market research is defined as research that gathers and analyzes information about the moving of goods or services from producer to consumer.

There are two main approaches to conducting market research. These include:

  • Developing primary data via surveys and focus groups
  • Using secondary data, that which is available through publicly accessible sources Surveys

Once we have determined a particular item or range of data that will assist in our business planning, a choice must be made as to which of the several survey methods available will be used to acquire this information. Online, mail, telephone, and face-to face are the main methods being used. You can commission a market research agency to carry out any of these survey methods if your budget allows.

Surveys allow you to find out the views of a targeted population. The more individuals surveyed, the more reliable will be the results. Online and mail surveys are generally not random and can over- or under- represent segments of the population. Telephone surveys are generally more representative of the population, though wide use of cell phones has complicated the issue.

The secret to a successful survey lies in questions that collect the information you need. Make sure you ask each respondent exactly the same questions and try to avoid any which are leading or ambiguous.

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Focus groups

This a small group of people with similar characteristics selected from a wider population for an open discussion of its members’ opinions and emotional responses to a particular subject or area. Generally a group consists of about ten members in a room with a researcher. This is an example of qualitative research, i.e., non-numeric.

Secondary Research

Secondary research uses publicly available data. The upside is that there is no need to conduct surveys; the downside is that such data may be out of date, does not apply to your target market, or that techniques for collecting the data were faulty. Still, this is the most widely used technique.

Secondary data sources you should try include:

  • Articles on Demographic Research, via About.com
  • American Fact Finder, a better indexed version of census data.
  • Biz Stats, comparison of performance for similar businesses.

Industry Codes

Much of available commercial and industrial data is organized by a market segment code, generally NAICS but sometimes by the older SIC code. As an example of how to use a code, let us say you want to make chocolate candy for sale; you plan to purchase the chocolate. The NAICS codes are progressively detailed as the length of the code increases:

Manufacturing 31 Food Manufacture 311 Sugar and Confectionery Product Manufacturing 3113 Confectionery Manufacturing from Purchased Chocolate 31133

Data for NAICS code 31133 will be very useful to your research. For an example of how to find such data, see http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/current/c31133.htm.

Researching Your Competitors

This process begins with finding your competitors. This generally produces answers about who, what, where, when and how. One can obtain this information through Internet searches, looking through industry journals, or talking to knowledgeable sources.

As well as knowing who your competitors are, this will also tell you what they offer and their propositions. This will help you identify your USP. See What’s Your Unique Selling Point? See also “Researching Your Competitors.”

Industry Data

A lot of data exists within trade associations. To find the publications for a specific industry simply Google the words “trade magazine xxxxxx” with xxxxxx being the product or service. For example, “trade magazine chocolate manufacture” provides a link to the National Confectioners Association. Other good sources for trade association data include:

Sometimes it is helpful to have someone not so close to the business help with strategy. If you would like to request a free SCORE Mentor to assist you with developing your strategy request one here.

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How to Define Your Target Market


When you’re first new to marketing, it may be tempting to try to tell just about everybody about your products or services in an attempt to cover all your bases. However, this type of scattered approach is not only inefficient, but costly. It doesn’t target the ideal customer who would want the types of products and services you offer and can lead to a lot of extra effort with very poor returns. This can be a frustrating experience and an unnecessary waste of time and labor. In addition, if you’re outsourcing your marketing, you’ll want to really understand your target demographic in minute detail so that you don’t pay for marketing that is very unlikely to ever yield a sale. To run a successful marketing campaign, you must do some careful research and brainstorming into the demographics of your ideal customer base and target your advertising to them alone.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

Even if you are really brand new to your business, you can find this data from those people who will be your competitors, once you get your business online. You’ll want to brainstorm what your ideal customer profile might look like and find data from other sites or your own that lets you know if these are the people interested in your type of business. Here is the type of data that you’ll want to collect:

  • Gender – If you’re selling women’s apparel, there’s no point in targeting men. Some types of products and services can be limited by gender, but not all.
  • Age – Maybe you sell medical products for the elderly or toys for the youngster. Then, you’ll want to limit your campaigns to those ages that are most appropriate to your products and services.
  • Education Level – High information customers may want to order products and services to help elevate them at the top of their professional game.
  • Income – Even if you have products and services that can be sold to multiple income levels, you will want to use income information to help you segment your offerings. In this way, you can sell luxury items to high income buyers while closing lower income buyers with less costly offerings.
  • Ethnicity – Culture can determine buying habits, so it’s not unreasonable to track ethnicity, if it applies to your product and service offerings.
  • Platform – You’ll want to know if people are visiting your site via mobile devices, so that you can reach them with mobile-friendly sites. Those with smartphones and tablets also tell you that they are early adopters of new technology, thus they can be ideal for marketing new technical products or services.
  • Lifestyle – Household size, occupation, and other lifestyle choices can determine whether someone is open to buying in quantity or often.

Where Do Your Ideal Customers Congregate?

Other demographic data that is important to your market that can be obtained to help you design advertising campaigns include:

Location – Local businesses that can take advantage of walk-in traffic will want to know the location of their online visitors. Some countries have a higher rate of fraud than others, like Nigeria, and many online marketers exclude it in their campaigns. Other marketers want to only serve customers in their own country and that’s another way to limit the campaign. Location is becoming one of the most relevant demographics to track because Google places a high importance on content and websites that are optimized for local SEO, using hyperlocal keywords that sometimes are designed down to the neighborhood level. It’s also easier to attract those mobile customers through the physical door, if you know where the local traffic is apt to come from in the first place.

Advertising Channels – Online advertising channels can include social media, referral sites, directories, search engines, and other content sites. Facebook offers their own version of advertising that costs different than Google Adwords and follows a different scheme. Facebook has an older crowd, so even though you can limit the audience by other demographics using their advertising campaign features, you’ll still start out with an older crowd than those that visit Instagram. Check out your potential advertising channel’s demographics first before choosing your venue.

Size of Potential Market Audience – Within each venue, you’ll be able to target your ideal demographic, but the more you limit it the less people see your ads. Consider how big your potential market audience should be in order to get enough marketing leads and conversions to justify the cost of the campaign. For Google Adwords, you can do this based on traffic numbers and the size of your budget, only paying for clicks that lead to your products and services.

Market Segment – If you’re selling B2B, then LinkedIn is the best social network to use for advertising. However, you should also look at joint ventures and trade sites that get your campaigns in front of the right audience too. Reserve the social campaigns on Facebook or Instagram for direct consumer sales. Your market segment is going to also be important in figuring out what demographic is going to buy and where they are online.

Tools To Get The Raw Data

To get some of this information, you can look at your own or other people’s websites, using some tools:

Quantcast.com – One of the best tools online to see the demographics of your sites as well as others in your niche market is Quantcast.com. Plug in the url and if the site is Quantacized, you’ll get a good idea of gender as well as other age, ethnicity, and household income level.

Google Analytics – If you’re trying to generate information from your own site and it is not Quantacized, then you can get that information from Google Analytics. You’ll have to configure it to do reporting and collection of the data, but it can be a straightforward way to start grabbing demographic data from people who visit your site.

Your Website’s Panel – Reporting features in your website panel can tell you the number of visitors, what location that came from, and what platform they’re on. By knowing who is visiting from where and whether they’re on a mobile device or not, you can start getting valuable information that will save you money in your advertising campaigns.

Use Demographics to Design Targeted Campaigns

After you’ve collected and defined your demographics, how do you use that information to target your market? You can use it to create content that appeals to your specific demographic, for advertising, and for segmenting your audience to create higher conversion rates. The key is to serve up the right offer to the right audience, thus increasing the likelihood they’ll hit the buy button at some point. Read on to find out how to use your demographic data in these three key areas of marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Creation

You will not only optimize your content around keywords that your ideal demographic searches often, but you’ll also want to publish topics of interest to them on your blog. If you’re selling anti-aging cosmetics, then you might try to target older women more than men too. You might publish content on the science of different anti-aging ingredients and point out which products that you offer have said ingredients. You would embed keywords like “natural anti-oxidant anti-aging eye cosmetic” to drive traffic from search engines too.

  1. Advertising Campaigns

You will know how to pick the right advertising venue with demographic data that matches your chosen target demographic. You can either exclude bad demographics, like location mismatches, or include them based on who you want to target. This will match the traffic stream you get from advertising to the offerings you have on your site, making it more likely that they are viable marketing leads you’re paying for in your campaigns.

  1. Multiple Sales Funnels and Offers

Once that traffic arrives on your site, you can further segment offers by income level so that your high income visitors see luxury products and your low income visitors get a free introductory offer to get them on into your email list. You can also  use that demographic data in your email list a to create different sales funnels and provide just the right offerings to households with slightly different household budgets or needs, using multiple sales campaigns.

If you would like to request a free SCORE Mentor to assist you with identifying your target market request one here.