Market research: Definition, implementation & benefits

“Market research” sounds pompous. On the one hand, it refers to the quantitative development of demand with an outlook into the foreseeable future. Especially when investments are to be made, a reliable statement about future developments is important. And the statement about the future must not be derived from the past alone. The future is not a continuation of the past. This is because the economy develops dynamically with the activities of entrepreneurs. Current successes with a strategy that has worked so far may no longer be possible in the future because general conditions can change.

Managing the game by watching the scoreboard must give way to strategically managing the game itself.

In addition to previous market developments, it is therefore important to observe current activities and assess probable future activities. This requires a broad and open-minded view of the future.

Example: A manufacturer of high-precision steel machine components sees an opportunity in focusing on supplying the wind power industry. The investment in machinery necessary for this requires the certainty of a sufficient order volume. The order volume in turn depends on political decisions on the use of wind power for energy generation. A sound analysis of the situation and outlook beyond the immediate market conditions is therefore essential.

On the other hand, “market research” also entails observing how customers and their customers usually deal with products. That is by no means a matter of course. What features do your customers perceive as benefits?

Example 1: In an internationally active group of companies whose operating sites manufacture products in plastic injection molding, product development was concentrated in the UK. An injection mold for the production of plastic baguette baskets was developed and built. When the first baguette baskets were introduced to French retailers, disillusionment set in. Baguettes are sold standing up in France, but the baguette baskets were designed so that the baguettes would lie down in them. A market peculiarity was not taken into account. As a result, the injection molds had to be rebuilt. EUR 100,000 was lost because no one had bothered looking at the application of the product.

Example 2: In an internationally active group of companies whose operating sites manufacture products in plastic injection molding, product development was concentrated in the UK. Injection molds were produced for hinged plastic boxes for transporting fruit and vegetables. The injected and assembled boxes worked very well until they were tested at a wholesale location by warehouse personnel. The stacked and filled boxes were pushed by the employees from the short side onto the stacks. In the process, the side wall buckled inward because it was not propped against the long sides, but the long sides were propped against the short sides. The developers had not looked at the standard process. The boxes could not be used. The tools had to be redesigned and rebuilt. A loss in the 6-digit euro range had to be absorbed. In addition, the manufacturer fell behind schedule.

Example 3: After a long development period, the product development department of a manufacturer of fingerprint sensors for use by the police and customs authorities presented a prototype that was neither met the official requirements nor was of a reasonable size. The development had completely failed to meet the requirements of the target customers because there was no customer dialog.


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