consumer research

How to Do Your Own Consumer Research

Apr 30, 2024

If you don't know exactly who your business exists to serve, you can't build a loyal brand that people come back to again and again. You can’t build trust if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, what matters to them, and what resonates with them. 

Do you know who your target consumer is, and what they want? Let’s figure it out together.  

What Is Consumer Research? 

Consumer research is digging into what your customers really want, how they feel, and what they do. This kind of research helps you figure out who you’re selling to. It also gives you the information you need to make your business speak in the right way to your customers.

Without consumer research, you might share content that doesn't connect, or use stories that don't relate, or price a product they would never pay for, or speak to them in a way that does not build trust. You may accidentally turn them off from wanting to do business with you.

You need to know your customer so well that they feel like you're best friends. Every email, landing page, podcast episode, social media post, and piece of content needs to build trust. Consumer research is just taking some time to intentionally get to know them so you can connect with and serve them; creating products and services that cure their pain points, solve their problems, and meet their needs. Let’s talk about how to do that. 

What to Look for in Consumer Research

Before we get into exactly how to do consumer research, here are some questions you’re looking to answer through the process:

1.Do they want what I have to offer?

Before you blindly launch your product or service, it's important to figure out who actually wants it and why. By learning what your target market needs ahead of time, you can launch confidently and reduce the risk of a flop.

2. How can I stand out from the competition?

Compare how your offerings stack up against what's already out there from other brands your consumer loves. Your business needs to either, a) fill a gap, or, b) do something better than what's already out there. Consumer research helps you discover those gaps and areas where things could be better—so you can step in and make your mark.

3. How can I make my consumer ridiculously happy?

Checking in with your tribe through research is like hacking customer satisfaction. Whether it's tweaking your product lineup, incorporating language they actually use into your copy, or even changing how your website looks, using feedback from your consumer builds trust and keeps them coming back for more.

How to Do Consumer Research

You’re going to create a persona of your ideal customer. Not just any random customer—your ideal customer. Who is the perfect person for your business? The person who needs what you have to offer and can pay the price you're charging.

If you’ve been in business a while, you probably have data to work with already. You may have customer service emails, feedback from social media, and plenty of knowledge from your own experience. 

If you don’t have any actual consumers yet, use your imagination. When you came up with your business idea you probably had someone, somewhere in mind. If you need help with this, I created a persona template for you here.  

Now you’re going to make notes about your ideal customer/persona:

  • What is his/her name?
  • Marital status?
  • Does he/she have children? If so, how old are they?
  • Where does he/she shop?
  • What is his/her personality style?
  • What does he/she need?
  • How would they describe their problem(s)? What words would they use?
  • What goals do they have?
  • What fears do they have?
  • What other brands or influencers do they follow?
  • Where do they live?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How much is their household income?

Feel free to add your own to this list. Think of whatever questions you can to get to know them like your best friend! If you already have an email list or existing customers, the best thing you can do is survey them. 

How Consumer Research Affects Marketing

If you’ve been in business for a while, you may have two to three personas. But you don't need ten personas—don’t get carried away. 

Learning about your persona(s) is an exercise you should do at least annually. After all, your audience is changing and so is your business, whether you realize it or not. In fact, I recently ran my coaching business back through this process. I have a lot more data to base my personas on now than I did a year ago. I discovered I now have three different personas: 

    Amy: Working mom. Extravert. Business owner. Overwhelmed with her to-do list. Doesn’t particularly enjoy speaking unless it’s about her business. Represents 40% of my audience.

    Rebecca: Dedicated Christian. Introvert. Doesn’t feel qualified to be a speaker, but feels called to lead Bible studies and teach God’s word at church, or maybe a podcast. Represents 40% of my audience.

    Sarah: Married with no kids. Extravert. Dreams of being a full-time keynote speaker making the big bucks. Represents 20% of my audience. 

When I stood back to take a look at my actual consumer research, I had a problem. It was incredibly helpful to see the problem, but, I was missing the mark. All of my marketing—my emails, website, and social media—had messaging along the lines of, “Be a speaker! Learn to speak! Take my speaking course!” 

80% of my audience do not identify as speakers, but they would absolutely benefit from my speaking course. Amy can use it in her business and in her pitches, but taking the time to learn “speaking” feels overwhelming to her. Rebecca’s mindset is that she’s unqualified, but this course would get her qualified to pursue her calling. They both need the same course and neither of them identify with the word “speaker”; it might actually be intimidating them. So I need to position that course to each of them very differently. 

And both of them will be a harder sell than Sarah who is just ready to join, like, yesterday!

Doing consumer research changed everything about my marketing from that moment. Everything from the language I use to the value I highlight. When you understand your customer, everything you say, create, and do is informed by who you're doing it for.

When consumer research is missing

Y'all, I have to use an example I saw on Instagram the other day. It was a simple post from a business account serving other female small business owners—likely busy moms. It was an image of a beautiful plant with the caption: “Take care of yourself like you take care of your plants.” 

Let's just pause right there, shall we? Do you have plants? Are you a busy mom who is also a business owner and you have plants? How are the plants looking? Probably not great, if you have them at all. Probably, they are dead. 

At least, any plant I’ve tried to care for ends up with the same destiny: they come to my house to die.  

So I feel like this business account missed the mark on this one. And I wasn’t alone in that feeling. Every single comment was exactly what I expected:

“Well, I would be dead.”

“Well, if I took care of myself like my plants, I would not have a chance.”

“I am dead.” 

“I would be dead.” 

“The plants are dead.” “I am now dead.” 

It’s all crying-laughing emojis and dead/skull emojis. This account clearly didn’t do their consumer resarch. Maybe whoever runs the account is very passionate about horticulture, but their consumer is not. Most of them most of them are busy business owners and the last thing on their mind is taking care of a plant. If they've got a plant, it's freakin’ fake. I have three kids and a dog! That's enough lives to be responsible for. 

Consumer Research Creates Loyalty and Trust

When you take the time to do consumer research in your business, it will make all of your decision making so much easier. That’s because you're no longer trying to speak to everyone. You're no longer paralyzed by options of what to do or what to write, because you're going to do and write exactly what your persona wants. You're speaking directly to them.

When you take the time to get to know them on that level, you will create loyal, repeat customers who not only support your business, but talk about it to their friends, too! They will stick with you. Maybe even when try something completely new… they will stick with you. Take it from me! 

If you are tired of feeling stuck, scattered and overwhelmed in your business, I want to personally help you.

When you join my Goal Getters Club, I will coach you on consumer research, marketing, and setting the right goals. I’m also going to teach you the systems you need to make those goals actually happen. Learn more about working with me

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