If you’re running a retail business, whether you’re the head of a multinational organisation or a single boutique, a brand new business or one of London’s oldest department stores, the most important thing you need to know is ‘who is buying your products’. From there you built up to why they choose you, and how to capture more people, but everything is built on the foundation of a clear understanding of who your core audience is.
While you can reach out to them yourself to get some data, surveying customers is a difficult task. It’s not always easy to structure questions to ensure you get useful results: if the questions are too probing and demanding you might find few people completing your survey. Even if you’re not aware of it, your own opinions might be infiltrating the language of the survey, steering customers to an answer they don’t actually believe and which won’t be reflected in their actions.
For accurate, useful consumer intelligence and insights, you need a market research firm: the experts. They’ll have the experience and expertise to know how you get the basic demographic information that helps you profile your market, and then build on that with surveys showing what customers think of your brand, and how they rate it against your rivals. These ‘brand tracker’ surveys are a vital weapon in the arsenal of any CEO or manager.
One easy way to start out is to use an omnibus survey: omnibus surveys are regularly distributed to a broad audience. They contain a wide array of questions from a broad variety of businesses: adding a question or two costs as little as two hundred pounds.
While you’re not going to get a huge insight from such a general survey, by definition, they can help you build an audience profile because you don’t just get back the results of your questions, you get back the demographic information of every respondent. As long as you choose your questions carefully you can get back a full profile of everyone who’s interested in your brand, from their age and gender to their location and what they do for a living. This helps you optimise your offering to those groups, from targeting your adverts to picking a price point for a new product – if most of the people who are interested in your business are students in their late teens, you’re going to need to sell at a lower price point than a product tailored to middle aged professionals!