Market Research for Startups: Making Your Target Market See What You See

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Posted Oct 06, 2011

If you’re starting a brand new company, chances are it’s pretty close to your heart. You have a lot invested in this company, both financially and personally. You want to make sure your target market sees your company in the way you envision, and market research can play a key role in making that goal a reality.Online surveys can be a very valuable tool in shaping your startup’s image. Since you’re starting from scratch, you have so many options for how to position and market your brand, and what better way to find the perfect message than to ask the people you’ll be speaking to.

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New Product Feedback

In your survey, you should find out what your target market thinks of your new product or service by first describing it to them and then asking them some follow up questions. When describing your product, it’s very important that you remain objective. You want to describe the product as your customers will really see it, not just how you want them to see it. That way your information will be as accurate as possible. In addition to being objective, it’s also important to keep your description brief. No one wants to read five paragraphs to kick off a survey. If you can’t come up with a brief description for your product, then it is likely too complicated and your customers won’t even care to find out what it is, much less buy it.Once you’ve described your product, you need to find out who would consider purchasing your product. It is important, however, not to just ask: “Would you consider buying this product?” This question is too vague and will likely lead to overly positive responses. It is likely that many of your respondents can come up with some kind of hypothetical situation sometime in the distant future where they might consider buying any number of products that they probably wouldn’t buy under normal cicrcumstances. But it is more valuable for your company to find out who will likely buy your product under normal circumstances in the near future. So instead, narrow your questions down with a specific timeframe or set of circumstances. “How likely would you be to purchase this product in the next six months?” That is a much more specific question that will yield more accurate and usable results.

Demand Drivers

After you have identified the respondents who might be likely to purchase your new product, you need to find out what aspects of the product appeal to them so you can make sure to highlight those features in your marketing efforts. Some possible demand drivers to consider might include: timesaving, aesthetically pleasing, practical applications, quality craftsmanship, and more. In your survey, you might consider turning each of these features into a statement and asking respondents to which degree they agree with each statement. For example: “I like that the product has X-feature. Do you: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree.”


Just as important as determining why people want to buy your product is finding out why they don’t want to buy it. Again, you can use skip logic to reach those respondents who said they would be unlikely to purchase your product, and find out what didn’t appeal to them so you might find a way to either improve your product or use the information in a more positive way. Possible deterrents might include: difficulty of use, time consuming, space consuming, and more. Using the same format as you did for finding demand drivers, you can find out which aspects of your product might be deterring your potential customers.Market research is important for all companies, but especially startups. When forming your company and your product line, getting input from your potential customers can make all the difference in the overall success of your new company. By providing your target market with objective information about your new product and using the information they provide in an effective way, you can make sure that your new customers see your company in the way you envision.Photo Credit: Lifestyle Boards/Moodboards/Market Research from Flickr

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