“Market research is not an end in itself. rather it only serves as a basis for decision-Making.”

Actionable research is designed to produce answers that assist decision-making in a wide range of areas, including change management, growth, customer loyalty, selecting advertising media, assessing the potential of a new venture, identifying trends, branding, process improvement, and product development (working in concert with the engineering and sales departments).

If its goals are not defined and understood by all parties involved, the research may target the wrong sample, lead to the wrong answers or fail to be useful. The basic question to ask is, “What is to be accomplished with the research?” With the objective(s) clearly identified, the next critical step is to develop the right questions that will produce actionable results and meet the objective(s).

A company that is contemplating a new product, for example, may seek answers to the following questions:

• Who are the potential customers (demographics, income, marital status, employment, age, etc.)?

• What are their needs and motivations for purchase?

• Who makes the purchasing decision?

• What features and options do they expect?

• What quality is expected?

• How much are customers willing to pay?

• Will customers want several versions with different features in different price ranges?

• How will they learn about the offering?

• How often will they purchase it and when?

The most actionable insights come from open-ended questions that give subjects an opportunity to express opinions regarding what other products they could use, suggested improvements, and first impressions of the company. When designing questions, don’t rely solely on executives or marketing personnel. Instead, include employees across the organization, particularly people in customer contact roles. In business-to-business research, seek input from customers as well. A company that has a list of former clients, for example, can query them to discover their reasons for defection and then target those same issues when surveying current clientele.