Market research vs. Responding to customers

Is there a difference between market research and responding to customer needs? Some interrelate the two and obviously there is a difference.

Market research means you the entrepreneur goes out there and source data about your customers needs and wants. At this stage you are not yet responding to a need, you are merely finding out if indeed there is a need. How many Kenyan entrepreneurs can say with a serious face that they have carried out their market research and that is why they are in fact offering the service or product that they are?

Responding to a customer need means provide the customer with a solution for an issue that they have brought out to you the business person. Are you able to respond to your customers need at the right time or do you do it when it suits you best?

The importance of carrying out market research will actually help you know and understand your customer, you will actually be able to meet their needs easily, you’d ordinarily be better prepared.

You normally find that a brand such as Bata has done its market research when it comes to its line of Marie Claire shoes for women. The shoes are classy, they are affordable, comfortable and Bata actually change the range every now and then so a shoe you buy in this month will be replaced by a different design in a month or so. The brand has really worked hard to get itself back to where it once was. The average Kenyan lady wants to look good and these shoes do that. Don’t fret, Bata didn’t pay for this, I am simply speaking my mind.

Responding to customer needs is difficult because sometimes you simply are not sure how to respond or for that matter how much it will cost you to respond. Mobile phone operators in Kenya really had to respond to the customer needs by reducing their costs, remember the tariff battle of 2010. Well perhaps not the best example since there were many other factors that preempted the changes. Responding to a customers need could range from simply producing an additional report for your client to reducing a transaction cost for your client.

Have you done your market research or are you continually finding yourself trying to catchup to your customers needs?

Naomi Kinyanjui is an aspiring entrepreneur, a Procurement Specialist by profession with a passion for life, writing and making a difference. Follow her on Procurement Mentality 101 blog where the talk is all about supply chain and procurement and maintaining professionalism in such a controversial field.

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