One of the most common questions asked by clients when designing a B2B research project is “What is the sample size I need to ensure the data is ‘statistically valid’?” These sample size questions typically include common statistical terms such as margin of error, randomness, confidence level, and statistical validity. In most cases we find that the client possesses limited knowledge of what these terms actually mean, or the role they play in determining a sample size.
While attending a PackExpo last week, I couldn’t help noticing the increase in emphasis on robotics, especially those focused in areas of the manufacturing process that traditionally utilize significant amounts of manual labor. Discussing my observation with others at the show, the difficulty of finding labor in today’s market was an overriding theme. My subsequent research supported the observation, with construction and agriculture appearing to be two of the hardest hit industries.
For many companies, business growth is often driven by unforeseen or unique market events that drive demand. In any given year, the “stars may align” for a business and result in unforeseen growth. An example of this is the topic of a recent article published in Plastics News, “A solar (eclipse) powered boom for specialty film business.” For some specialty film producers, the stars may not have aligned, but the alignment of the moon and sun created a once in a lifetime growth opportunity.
Marketing in the Boardroom is an important book for any aspiring marketers who are moving up the career ladder, particularly those who are writing or giving presentations to the Board. It is also an important book for their organizations, particularly those that struggle to give marketing the support it needs to create customer-led strategies that will drive business growth.
Recent research into the current focus of B2B marketers has pointed to two interesting trends guiding much of their activity around building their B2B brands: (1) moving from a price driven focus to a value-based approach and by (2) placing more emphasis on the customer experience. Although these highlighted areas of focus were reported as unique separate initiatives, the concept of enhancing value and improving the customer experience are strongly linked and can be considered holistically.
In the B2B world, market share is pursued and defended constantly. On a customer-by-customer basis companies constantly exploit opportunities to take share from competitors and develop strategies to prevent losing share. Sustainable growth is dependent on developing solid strategies in both of these areas. So how do you begin to understand all of the market dynamics associated with developing a comprehensive strategy designed to protect and grow market share?
Before you actually start to conduct your research, you must be familiar with the different types of research and what they include. Custom market research offers solutions tailored to individual business needs, so each customized market research project will be unique. Structure and timing depends on a number of key elements, including complexity of project objectives, determined size of primary research components, difficulty in recruiting target participant segments, etc. Though a research company may have experience conducting research in a specific market, it is important to bear in mind that each project is tailored to a specific business nee, and a sound process is often more important than market expertise. In fact, market expertise can often introduce bias. The fluid process of custom allows for changes and “tweaks” to improve the output as information is collected.
At its core, insights uncovered by B2B market research provide companies the information necessary to make better informed strategic decisions. Most research projects have two dimensions to consider: type and scope. Defining the best type of market research project is most often driven by the need for a deeper understanding of either: customers, competition, or a target market, while the scope is determined by the depth of the data needed to provide the insight for the strategic decision at hand.
The vast majority of companies competing in today’s global economy conduct some form of market research in the markets in which they currently participate or may potentially participate. Companies usually look to outside firms for their research and are faced with the choice of purchasing either syndicated or custom market research.
The Business-to-Business (B2B) is different in fundamental ways from the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sector. Typically, B2C transactions occur through an intermediary, such as a retailer or agent, while B2B refers to transactions that take place between businesses and are generally upstream from consumer transactions. In this article, I will discuss the eight key criteria that distinguish B2B markets with implications that directly affect market research.