A successful business needs a deep understanding of potential and existing customers and the marketplace they work in.
This understanding allows you to target customers, sell effectively, compete with other suppliers and identify new opportunities. Carrying out market research on potential customers and your competitors will help you to gain this vital knowledge.
You can build a picture of general trends using published market information - from free government statistics and data to paid-for market reports from commercial providers. Your own contacts and sales records can also be a great resource.
You can add to your knowledge by using field research - from surveys and discussions to product tests - to investigate customers' attitudes and examine questions specific to your business.
This guide explains what you need to know about market and customer research, how to build your knowledge and how using field research can fill in the gaps.