Beulah Iriele is a Director at Soteria Business Services Limited, a UK-based business consultancy  working with businesses to implement their growth and transformation objectives. Follow on twitter @SoteriaBusiness

Market research as we know it, is becoming more challenging for businesses. It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict what consumers want or would pay for due to the unprecedented disruption happening in various markets.

A Post-Truth Era

In 2016, various sectors including the political and social arenas, experienced seismic changes to known and predictable patterns. Many say this was because the world may have moved into something the Oxford Dictionary terms as the ‘Post-Truth Era’. The Post-Truth Era signifies an era where feelings or emotions are prioritised above facts. Businesses could find it challenging to perform market research. Just collating facts relevant to their markets through the old way of conducting market research will not be sufficient. Therefore, businesses might need a customer-focused approach.

Customer-focused market research

Here are 3 ways businesses can perform a customer-focused market research

Engage in customer exploration

This is not only about getting feedback from customers through surveys and questionnaires. It also involves observations and one-on-one customer contact. This will help businesses understand how customers feel about your products and services. Businesses should not rely on the number of likes or followers on their social media page. Meeting customers one-on-one could help give first-hand feedback. It will also help to capture more than what customers say in their surveys and questionnaire responses.

Pilot new services or test new product prototypes

Within given markets, observe customer reactions to products or services. Observing rather than waiting for responses from feedback forms will enable businesses to understand the underlying feelings of reception or rejection of these products or services. This technique will also enable further probing into these feelings where necessary.

Focus research on the underlying factors accounting for customer loyalty

Customers often stay loyal to products and services that appeal to their feelings. Focusing on these factors will help businesses understand what drives adoption and customer loyalty through market research. For example, most people who own Apple brand products do so because they feel that they belong to some sort of elite club. Therefore, they remain loyal customers to maintain that feeling. Subsequently, Apple ensures that their products continually appeal to this feeling of elitism putting a lot of focus on Customer Intimacy as a value discipline. What other ways can businesses move from the traditional research methods to a customer-focused approach? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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