Your products may be selling very well now. But what the market wants today may be different from that of tomorrow. And how about the day after tomorrow? As time passes, the world changes. So do people. Yet one thing remains: they will buy what they want. And that is what you should offer them.
SO, WHAT DO THEY WANT?
But how do you know what they want? Big corporations can commission comprehensive technical studies to project what will sell in the future. But a small entrepreneur, as you may be, don’t. Worry not. A well-designed environmental scanning will do the work. Not very sophisticated, nor very technical, and less expensive.
Do a survey.
While it may require some good fieldwork, a survey can provide you with a comprehensive set of information you need. The good news is you don’t have to design your survey instrument because there are survey design software providers who can do the work for you. But you must plan your survey coverage to make sure it is complete, identify the appropriate respondents who know the business and train the enumerators who will carry out the survey. Else, they can ruin your good survey design.
Do field observation.
A field observation will provide you with the lay of the land. It shows the actual situation where they are, as they happen. The observation should include an interview of stakeholders who matter most in your business, which may include the suppliers, competitors, marketplace supervisor, traders, outlets, customers, and end-users, to provide details which may not be visible during the time of the observation.
Conduct an FGD.
The good thing about a Focus Group Discussion is that it offers the opportunity to validate your results from the survey and field observation. While it is generally qualitative in its results, it provides you with a deeper appreciation of critical issues to consider. It is essential that the participants be those who are knowledgeable in your business, and that the moderator be one who is experienced doing it, not necessarily the entrepreneur himself. Where necessary, more than one FGD could be done, each with a maximum of eight participants.
COMBINATION IS BEST.
While each tool discussed provides essential information, in the end, a combination of the three will be best to use. Each one has its contribution to guide you towards the appropriate new product or service offering you can introduce in the market, with much confidence. It may take a while to complete, but the prize is worth the wait.
KEEP THE CLIENTS COMING BACK
There you have it. Not the highly technical, sophisticated and expensive projection tools there may be in the market, but three doable methods a small entrepreneur, as you may be, can adapt to identify what your market wants, which is what you should give them. They are based on reality in the field, from people who matter most in your business. Use them to keep your company competitive, and exciting with new product introductions to keep your clients coming back.