We are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to buying behavior. We know the location of our favorite products in the store, and we trust that they'll work year after year. In fact, research shows Americans buy the same 150 items, which accounts for 85% of household needs.
People don't like change. It's a battle to get someone to switch to an unknown brand.
When a client wants to launch a new product, get into a different market, or open a new store location, the odds are stacked against him. Consider this: Only 3% of consumer packaged goods exceed the sales goal benchmark of a successful launch.
In part, we can blame lack of research for why there are so many unsuccessful product launches and ill-conceived new feature additions. Founders and brand managers "know" it will be successful -- they run on their instincts, not the facts. (It was this instinct that led Clairol to release Touch of Yogurt Shampoo, which some people thought was a breakfast food option.)
Finding out if a product will be successful beyond the initial curiosity is just good business. With market research, you determine if the opportunity exists, how to position the product or service, or what consumers' opinions are after the launch.
If you're sensitive to the high costs of failure and need to gather facts and opinions to predict whether your new product, feature, or location will be successful, start by investing in market research using these tools and resources.
17 Helpful Market Research Tools & Resources
Wish you had information on how consumer behavior changes in relation to the seasons, holidays, and other special events? Think With Google's Marketer's Almanac offers interesting insights on how people browse and buy.
American Fact Finder is a resource for searching U.S. census data. You can filter by age, income, year, race, and location.
County Business Patterns provides information on the areas of the country with large numbers of certain types of businesses.
Business Dynamics Statistics takes census data and allows you see economic data on job creation, startups and shutdowns, business openings, expansions, and closures.
FedStats provides an up-to-date forum for finding data released by federal agencies, including agriculture, education, transportation, and energy.
Nielsen's MyBestSegments provides researchers with tools to understand an area's demographic information and lifestyle habits. You can find out which areas would be most receptive to a campaign or launch, which competitors are located nearby, and trends in the area that have shifted.
Price: Free for Basic, $26/month for Select, $25/month for Gold, $85/month (per user) for Platinum
SurveyMonkey is a powerful tool for creating in-depth surveys that will help you understand the market and consumer preferences. (Learn more about crafting a survey for market research here.)
Price: Free for Basic, $35/month for Pro, $70/month for Pro+
Typeform shows viewers one form field at a time, and you can include multiple choice image options. It's an easy-to-use, mobile-optimized form-builder that's great for gathering feedback.
Price: $1/respondent for Basic, $2.50/respondent for Extended
Survata is another form-building option, but you can determine a target audience. It also employs people who will review your survey questions, so even if you are not a trained market researcher, you can get quality, actionable answers.
Price: $158/month for Micro, $410/month for SMB, $825/month for Enterprise
Loop11 is a usability testing service that allows you to test even your competitors' websites -- any webpage, basically. You can create a form and recruit people to take the test through your own website or by using a partner service, such as Cint.
Price: Variable (starts at $2,900/year for one session)
Userlytics provides a platform for doing user testing of mobile apps, videos, display ads, and more. It performs both a webcam and a screen recording, and you can compare the user answers with their reactions on video to understand how people are really interacting with your creative.
Price: $12/month for Hobby, $49/month for Pro, $89/month for Business, $199/month for White Label
Sometimes you need a no-frills test to take the pulse of consumers. Temper allows you to add a question, grab a snippet of code, and pop it onto your website. The smiley face, "meh" face, and frown face make it easy for viewers to make a snap judgment.
The MakeMyPersona tool is an interactive web tool that generates buyer personas for you once you answer a series of questions about your ideal customers. The tool provides plenty of guidance throughout the process, making it really easy for you to sort through the information you have about your ideal audience.
Ubersuggest is a simple tool for doing keyword and content research. You can input a phrase, and it'll spit out a long, alphabetized list of additional keywords.
From economic conditions, to political attitudes, to social media usage, the Pew Research Center website has a ton of free research that you can use to better understand your target market. Best of all, the site has a sleek UI and interactive charts that reveal more granular data as you hover over certain elements.
16) Social Mention
Social Mention is a real-time social media search engine that can help you understand what your prospective customers are buzzing about online. Search for a keyword, and Social Mention will show you recent social posts that contain that keyword, along with a list of related keywords and other insights.
17) HubSpot Research
Want to see how website traffic varies by industry, or how effective advertising is in different regions around the world? HubSpot Research has got you covered. In addition to checking out our free research reports, you can use HubSpot Research's presentation-builder tool to easily compile stats and charts into a customized slide deck.
This post originally appeared on Agency Post in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
What are your favorite tools for market research? Share them with us in the comments below!