Market Research for a Line of Products or Services - dummies

Market Research for a Line of Products or Services

By Wendy Piersall, Heather B. Armstrong

As a mom blogger, it’s essential to do market research before you invest in buying, making, or developing products to sell. You can’t build a business on selling things that you love; you have to sell things people want to buy.

Market research can be challenging, especially when you may not know what you’re looking for. But some really simple tools you’re probably already using can help you get a good idea of what people want and need:

  • Twitter conversations: Twitter is a real-time market-research machine, with millions of brand conversations happening every week. If you really want to know what’s hot or what irritates people in your industry, just conduct searches on popular words your potential customers would use and talk about.

  • Facebook feedback: Ask for my friends’ input on trends, news, and purchasing decisions. It’s easy to post a quick question to your friends in your Facebook status to ask them what they think about a topic or brand that can give you insights into what your customers might be thinking.

  • Google Trends: As the most used search engine in the world (and with an insatiable appetite for consumer data), Google probably knows more about us as a species than any other company. Google Trends can help you mine all sorts of search trends over the course of many years.

    Google Trends displays hot searches daily, but also allows you to input keywords so you can see the history of how often that keyword has been searched for since 2004. It doesn’t give you the specific quantity of searches, but instead simply shows you how the volume of searches varies from average.

    The 1.00 horizontal line represents the number of average searches for that phrase. The 2.00 line represents a number that is two times higher than the average. You can see an example of the history of the term blogging here, plus how the number of searches on blogging spikes to more than two times the normal amount in mid 2005 and at the end of 2007.

    Google Trends shows the search volume history of “blogging” since 2004.
    Google Trends shows the search volume history of “blogging” since 2004.
  • Google Insights for Search: Part of the Google Trends product is a more sophisticated tool called Google Insights for Search. This tool allows you to dive in deeper and narrow data by location, time range, multiple search phrases, and categories of information, not just individual terms.

    Here, you can see how the two terms mom and blogging have been searched over the last few years, when the search is limited to the Social Networks & Online Communities category.

    Google Insights for Search shows trends of searches in specific categories.
    Google Insights for Search shows trends of searches in specific categories.

When you use these tools, here are the kinds of things you want to look for:

  • Conversations around your product category discussing topics like what customers love, hate, can’t find, or don’t need. You’ll find this kind of information by monitoring conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

    You can do this by searching for conversations that include words you think your customers would likely use. For example, if you are an eco-conscious blogger, you can use the search feature to find conversations using the words recycle, global warming, or cloth diapers.

  • Mentions of other blogs, companies, or brands that are getting positive or negative feedback from users. Again, turn to Twitter and Facebook for this information. You can search for specific brand names, or for URLs of sites that have similar content to yours. You can also watch the conversations of influential people and read what they have to say about the companies they do business with.

  • Growing or waning interest in specific categories on the Google trending tools can predict an increase or decrease in demand for your products or services. For example, if you are thinking of starting a coupon blog, Google Trends will show you that interest in this subject increased drastically at the end of 2008 when the U.S. was in recession.

    Alternatively, interest in the subject of real estate dropped around the same time. You can use this as a general indication that the last two years have been great for money-saving websites and harder on sites about real estate.