I am the owner of a fully patented new harness adjustment system predominantly for strollers. We have a strong proof of concept prototype and the end commitment from some big global stroller brands but we are lacking the final investment, connections and expertise to push us over the line and wondered if there is anyone who knows the baby/infant market inside-out could help?
Reading your question, I believe you need to do market research in your patented product harness adjustment systems for strollers. Your product predominantly resides on babies or infants, but that depends on birth rates which in turn depends on Political, Social, Economic and Social conditions of a country. Let me explain you the how important market research is for your product.
We live in dynamic times, and everything about modern business seems uncertain. Change is the order of the day and management must proceed carefully if it is to make any undertaking successful. Alongside this, perennial issues still dictate business success. Product or service quality, financial acumen, productivity, efficiency, staffing, utilisation of information technology and many more – all must be well handled if success has a chance of following. In addition, there is the question of marketing. Simplistically marketing is the process that “brings in the business”, and this is certainly vital. Even the best product will not sell itself; indeed, marketing has a role in creating good products. So, business is a challenging undertaking and further hurdles exist. First, virtually all businesses face competitive markets at home and abroad. Competition, direct and indirect, will undo your best plans if it possibly can, certainly their activities create a “moving target”, demanding that strategies be adjusted continuously. Markets and customers are volatile too. Markets are affected as much by fashion and fad as by economics. Customers are increasingly demanding, ever fickler and their loyalty to products and brands is harder to win, and then has a more temporary hold than in the past. A host of external factors act on markets and affect customers’ willingness to buy. These include: economic factors and what customers can afford, political factors and how markets are allowed to operate, social factors affecting how people live and therefore what their needs are, technological factors such as the rise of information technology, and environmental factors that may affect choice and regulation. All these things are dynamic, though the pace of change and impact may vary.
The net effect of all this can be summed up in one word: risk. Business is an uncertain undertaking. For example, launch a new product (reputedly with a success rate of only one in ten) and the risk is all too obvious. In some businesses, with the long lead times and massive capital undertakings of, say, manufacturing an airliner, this effect is maximised. Management must assess risks in all its decision making and, while there may never be one, provable right course of action, what is decided always matters and there may regularly be a great deal hanging on the decisions that are made.
Decisions are assisted by knowledge and in this context, information really is power; and this brings us to the role of research. Market research is a body of techniques that provides information to assist decision making in business. It does not remove judgement and experience from the process, rather it supports them by providing a better basis of fact. It can do a whole range of things from confirming a suspicion to unearthing new, previously un-thought of, facts and opportunities. Sometimes this new information changes matters just a little, though maybe significantly. Sometimes it may reverse a situation. Always the intention is to add to the objective element of decision making, to make it better informed and ultimately more likely to take business in the right direction.
A clear definition of market research is:
“The systematic problem analysis, modelbuilding and factfinding for the purpose of improved decision making and control in the marketing of goods and services.” This implies that research is not just an information tool, it is a means of providing guidance to help improve the abilities of management within an organization, as well as a means of making a contribution to the management of the marketing mix. It can be used to help decide on: the marketing strategy required to meet the challenge of new opportunities; which market gaps to approach; and which are the key areas of interest for future marketing strategies.
The two basic purposes of research are:
1. To reduce uncertainty when plans are being made, whether these relate to the marketing operation as a whole or to individual components of the marketing mix such as advertising or sales promotion
2. To monitor performance after the plans have been put into operation. In fact, the monitoring role itself has two specific functions: it helps to control the execution of the company’s operational plan and it makes a substantial contribution to long-term strategic planning.
Simply stated, research covers all the “finding out” activities of marketing. The methods used may be simple: such as the completion of the questionnaires that you find in a hotel bedroom. Collecting and analysing these progressively can indicate the views of guests. Or methods may be complicated: data being gathered by post, telephone, online/e-mail, or face to face interviews from large numbers of people spread widely, maybe internationally. Research effects the essential first stage of a marketing function the identification of consumer needs – and can continue to update those views in different ways as things change over time.
The description “market research” is applied in two different ways. First, it is an umbrella term for several similar, but significantly different, types of research. Secondly, one of these specific types of research is itself called “market research”.
It describes five major types of research:
1. Market research – which, as an individual technique, investigates markets: asking who buys what in what quantity
2. Product research – this focuses on the product or service, asking what is right and wrong with the products of the company, or part of them
3. Marketing method research – examines aspects of marketing activity to see how well it is operating, asking whether communication, distribution etc. are effective
4. Motivational research – this looks at the way people think, asking about the basic reasons why people buy the products they do and what they feel about them
5. Attitude surveys – these focus on customers’ perceptions of, and attitudes to, products and to the companies who make them
Research is, of course, extremely helpful in predicting future behaviour, but research is essentially different from prediction; and this is something that must always be born in mind. When attempts are made at prediction (e.g. political election opinion polls etc.) then serious errors can be made. The fact that research is not infallible causes some cynicism. One researcher (quoted anonymously at a Market Research Society conference) said: “Good research reveals things I didn’t know. Indifferent research reveals things I already knew. Bad research concentrates on things I know are untrue”. The role of research, therefore, is to improve the fact basis on which forecasts and decisions are made. It must be made to work hard and accurately to focus on information that does help.
Market research provides information that assists an organisation to define opportunities for product development and market strategy. It works by assessing whether marketing strategies are accurately targeted, and by identifying market opportunities or changes that are required by customers. Market research tends to confirm issues that are well known in a market initially, but if planned well and effectively it will also identify new opportunities, market niches or ways by which to improve sales, marketing, and communications activities.
Specific uses of market research
To be more specific, we can list five key uses for market research. To:
1. Identify the size, shape and nature of a market, so as to understand the market and marketing opportunities
2. Investigate the strengths and weaknesses of competitive products and the level of trade support a company enjoys
3. Test out strategic and product ideas which help to define the most effective customer led strategies
4. Monitor the effectiveness of strategies
5. Help to define when marketing expenditure, promotions and targeting need to be adjusted or improved.
The range of possibilities for research is considerable. To illustrate further, some of the regular and main reasons for using market research are as follows. To:
1. Provide data on the market, or a market segment, and to discover whether the sector is increasing, staying the same or decreasing in importance to customers
2. Obtain information to help to understand who the customers are, and the way in which they buy and use certain products
3. Evaluate customer service, assessing what customers feel about the services that they are receiving and their quality
4. Research customer attitudes and needs on a continuous basis to discover which product types are selling and where there are opportunities for new sales
5. Achieve better targeting, understanding what media and messages influence consumers to buy the products
6. Identify changes in the market that will affect how marketing must proceed in future.
Since you have stated that your product is patented, that means it a novel idea developed by you to enhance the efficiency of strollers, you must focus on market research techniques to determine how will market react to your product.
i. Techniques of market research:
a) Planning market research surveys: Lurking behind most research surveys is a problem that needs solving (though this includes “positive problems” like seeking to find the best way to take advantage of an opportunity). At the outset of any study it is the researcher’s job to determine what the problem is and show how it can be solved. The researcher must develop skills in taking a brief from the ‘problem owner’ and translating it into a ‘proposal’ for carrying out the study. In the proposal the researcher states the objectives of the study, the methods which will be used to meet the objectives, the timing, the composition of the research team and the cost. This is true whether an organisation is undertaking research itself or retaining a specialist agency.
b) Desk research: There is no point in reinventing the wheel; it is costly and time consuming. If data exist, they should be used and not collected afresh. Desk research is the collection, sifting and interpretation of published data. It plays a part in most surveys, even if only to use the known breakdown of the population to guide the selection of a quota sample. Elsewhere it may involve the researcher in delving in the library or searching online databases for information on market size and structure. This is an area where the ongoing I.T. revolution has created many new options.
c) Standards and methods: Standards have had an increasing impact on the practice of market research. In the U.K. these relate primarily to the Market Research Society’s Code of Practice. Standards do not define good methods, but they encourage quality. They are intended to be implemented at an organisational level, rather than being a matter for individual practitioners – but they need to be followed by practitioners in an organisation.
d) Sampling and statistics: Sampling are a worry for most researchers who are new to the business. The mathematical basis that allows small numbers to be researched with the confidence that they are truly representative of the population (whatever the group is) is vital to research. Understanding the rudiments of random sampling is necessary, even though in most day-to-day surveys the researcher may learn to trust, say, a quota sample of 300 interviews spread across five cities. Without an appreciation of why and how different samples are selected, the researcher cannot claim to be undertaking a valid, scientific piece of work. Research must therefore be conducted in a way that brings specialised knowledge about this factor to the table.
e) Questionnaire design: Good market research is about asking the right people the right questions. Not much more, and not much less. We all ask questions in our daily life. We all fill in forms and are critical of them if they are the least bit ambiguous. In theory, questionnaire design should be easy and yet it is one of the most difficult tasks to get right. Designing questions which draw out accurate information from everyone, which can be completed easily by the interviewer, that flow well and leave respondents feeling that they have contributed something worthwhile, should be the aim of all researchers. This is therefore an especially important part of any study and is referred to again later.
f) Geodemographics: Time was when survey samples were selected from a representative quota of the population based on sex, social class, and age. Over recent years the technique has made it possible to link the characteristics of people with the neighbourhoods in which they live. This has become a powerful tool in allowing researchers to infer certain types of behaviour through knowing the geography of peoples’ homes. Geodemographics gave sampling a new lease of life. Each new census will give the techniques further development opportunities. This is clearly of most importance to research directed widely across the population as a whole; for an industrial company wanting to research buyers of, say, agricultural machinery of some sort the identification of people to contact is less of a problem.
g) Quantitative research over the internet: The Internet has become a collection of virtual communities, and all are focused on sharing information. For some organisations, the Internet may be no more than a marketing or promotional tool. For others they will benefit from operating and distributing their services over the Internet. Market Research is a service which now finds the Internet providing a new method of collecting and distributing information. As a result, web and e-mail questionnaires can be useful tools to researchers. As has been said, the sophistication of this area changes as you watch, as does the applications to which it is put.
ii. Data collection:
a) Quantitative research: Quantitative research is that which supplies a number to anything that can be measured, indeed there is a large body of researchers who argue that measurement can be applied to anything. Quantitative research produces ‘hard’ data which can be defended or challenged, and which is more than just opinion. It is based on sizeable surveys which, in the main, use samples of upwards of 200 people. However, the well-rounded researcher does not see quantitative research as a technique that can stand alone. It is often appropriate to plumb people’s opinions, first using qualitative techniques before determining exactly what should be measured. The qualitative and the quantitative methods therefore are often used together in this way, though it is always somehow easier to give finding credence when something measurable is involved.
b) Face-to-face interviewing: The market research industry has been built around the core technique of face-to-face interviewing – in the street and in the home, and industrial research in the office. It is still the bedrock of many studies as it allows the interviewer to use personal skills to elicit the information in a way that enhances accuracy. It also allows the showing of visual aids, evens out the interview and allows deeper insights to be gained than through more mechanistic methods. In recent years, CAPI – Computer Aided Personal Interviewing has given the traditional technique technological advancement and efficiencies.
c) Telephone interviewing: The telephone rose in popularity as a market research tool in the 1980s as it allows interviews to be carried out speedily, and under close supervision through central control. Almost all households have a telephone (and often more than one + mobiles), this means of contact allows the researcher to easily sample households anywhere in the country; indeed it is a technique that can allow prompt contact internationally also, albeit at higher cost. It is not necessarily a cheap method; in fact, it costs approximately the same as a street interview. CATI – Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing has enhanced the technique to increase quality and provide more detail from the interviews.
d) Postal Surveys: Sending a questionnaire through the post must be one of the simplest methods. There is a certain prejudice about the use of postal surveys, a belief that the response they bring is usually inadequate. But this is perhaps only because they are frequently used in the wrong circumstances. They produce excellent results when there is a strong relationship between the respondent and the company carrying out the research. They are suited to testing opinion and sensitive subjects and work best with closed questions. Case studies have been developed to show which approaches work best for maximising responses. You will sometimes see a similarity between postal research and direct mail marketing techniques. Both are susceptible to minor differences for their response, for example, just changing a heading, adding further explanatory text or providing an incentive to respondents makes a difference. Indeed I received a very nice pair of sunglasses from a motor manufacturer in the post this morning following my completion of a questionnaire for them some days ago.
e) Omnibus research: Omnibus studies are targeted at certain groups of respondents and are run at regular intervals. They provide the facility for an organisation to buy space for a limited number of questions in a large interview programme. Because the cost of the interviewing and analysis is shared among several organisations each contributing questions to the omnibus, it is a particularly cost-efficient means of collecting data. This is a technique which has seen an ever-expanding range of omnibuses covering all manner of target groups spring up over the years.
f) Panels and diaries: A panel differs from an omnibus study in that it is a survey of the same people each time. In practice it is not always the same people all the time as people drop out and need replacing. Care is taken to replace panel members with relevant demographic characteristics. The questions that are asked of the panel are consistent so that results can be tracked over time. This provides reliable trend data on purchasing or on such things as television viewing habits. Such panels, and they exist all over the world, are usually sponsored by large media or consumer goods companies wanting to keep a check on movements in their target markets. The panel members keep records of their purchases and activities in diaries; that term is used here therefore in a technical sense.
g) Retail audits: As the name suggests, retail audits take place at the shop or store. By checking the stock turnover at retailers, the audit companies, which instigate this sort of research, produce accurate figures on the market shares of a wide range of consumer goods. The subscribers to the audits can then use the results to monitor changes in brand shares, and within the distribution routes through which their goods are sold, and in turn to adjust their strategies in the market place to accommodate the latest situation.
h) EPOS: EPOS stands for Electronic Point of Sale. It describes a process carried out by scanning bar codes at the check-out, typically at retail outlets. This allows researchers to measure quickly and accurately which goods have been sold and at what prices. EPOS is an extension of the retail audit. It is an excellent means of tracking product data as well as furnishing researchers with a basis for much predictive modelling.
i) Qualitative research: In many studies researchers want to obtain a deep understanding of not just what is happening, but why and how something is happening. To achieve this the qualitative researcher works with small samples of people, sometimes on a one-to one basis and sometimes in small groups. These are less like interviews and more in the nature of conversations or discussions. They are long and unstructured and require considerable skill to draw out relevant information, and more to analyse the significant facts from them afterwards. Qualitative research can produce rich data, probing into people’s unconscious attitudes and needs. Because the samples are small, there is no attempt to measure responses.
j) In-depth interviews: Using open-ended and unstructured interview guides, the researcher carries out in-depth interviews to ‘get beneath’ the superficial responses. The in-depth interview permits the researcher to be flexible in the order and style of questioning so that avenues of interest and relevance to a respondent can be explored. This can be a valuable technique, but time equals money in all such contexts, so expenditure is increased.
k) Group discussions: In a group discussion (or focus group, a phrase that has entered the consciousness of the general public through the use of them by political parties) between five and nine people are led into an exchange of views by the researcher (who is called the moderator). The interactions between people in the group is used to flush out views that would not otherwise be raised in one-to-one interviewing. The group discussion is a widely employed technique for researching new concepts and guiding creative teams in advertising agencies. Group sessions can yield rich information, but they do require experienced researchers to direct them and make them work and obtain true responses and not just the ‘party line’. Here too costs can be high.
l) Hall tests: There are many occasions in market research when it is necessary to have people look at (or touch or taste a product). For all sorts of reasons, it may not be possible for this to take place in consumers’ homes. When this is the case, hall tests are set up. Target consumers are ‘recruited’ from busy streets and invited to a nearby hall where the test takes place. A variety of techniques may be used in this context, but all have in common using the product itself as part of the inquiry.
m) Sensory evaluation: Sensory evaluation is a tool to help the technical research and development teams design better products. It focuses on a small number of aspects of a product such as the materials that are used in its manufacture, their quality, the shape of the product and its performance in use. Data can be mapped to show where the product stands against consumer preferences and in comparison, with the competition. Because the evaluation considers several variables, this type of new product research benefits greatly from multivariate analysis.
iii. Communications, advertising, media, and the Internet:
a) Advertising research: Everyone knows the phrase, usually attributed to the Chairman of Unilever, saying I know half of my advertising is wasted, but I Don’t know which half. It makes a good point and reminds us that for all the scientific method involved these days, marketing remains as much an art as a science. But what measurement can be done of areas of significant expenditure like advertising, must be done. Advertising research employs both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Large-scale samples are used for this purpose. Backing up the quantitative studies are group discussions or in-depth interviews which test the adverts or give creative teams in advertising agencies ideas for campaigns.
b) Researching TV and radio: Broadcasting nowadays is a highly competitive business. The transaction from analogue to digital transmissions has revolutionising the structure of broadcasting and the number of channels continues to proliferate. Competition for audiences has been good for the business of audience researchers. The audience researcher can contribute his or her professional skills to identify the talent appropriate to the station, its deployment and promotion. Researchers working in this area need to deploy a wide range of research tools and do so in an area where practice changes amazingly fast.
c) People meters: In the past research into television viewing habits was done by getting panels of people to record what they did in diaries kept in their homes. This method worked well when homes had just one television set and the family normally sat watching it together. Today television viewing is complicated by the many sets in homes, greater individual rather than group viewing, and the use of recorders. People meters overcome these problems. They are electronic devices which monitor all the sets in the home – and the viewing on video recorders. They are “plumbed in” to the homes of people selected to go on the panel and provide accurate measurement of what occurs.
d) Packaging research: Packaging is an integral part of many of the products we buy. It plays an important functional role in protecting the product, and it carries visual information describing the contents. In addition, it is a mini advertisement actively playing a final role in merchandising and inviting consumers to buy. Packaging research is used to determine how well current or new packs work. In many cases straightforward questioning in the home or in hall tests will find out people’s attitudes to packs and their design. However, other techniques such as tachistoscopes (a device which measure blink rate and are used to judge how much attention people give to things they see) are available and can show how rapidly the visual information on the pack is absorbed.
iv. Analysis and modelling
a) Data analysis: Data on their own have no value. It is the implications of data that really matter – what is shows or suggests. This means that researchers have a responsibility to tease out only the data that is relevant to the objectives of the study, and to simplify them so that the user can quickly and easily see a pattern. The data must be presented in a form that the reader can understand and, hopefully, they will lead naturally to conclusions and recommendations. This part of the process may be automated and conducted largely by computer, but the job of setting up the required analysis is skilled and important. Only bad research collects large amounts of information and leaves it at that.
b) Modelling: Computers have enabled researchers to get more out of their data than ever before. For example, programs now exist for testing the prices which people will pay for a product. They can show the degree to which consumers will trade-off some feature such as quality or design against price. Simulated test markets can be set up. Missing data can be inferred by ‘fusing’ together sets of data. Data can be analysed to map or segment consumers to show their different characteristics or attitudes to brands. And the models can be used to forecast a course of action. This is an area of considerable complexity, as such it may be beyond the remit of many small organisations, but technological change is making it more accessible all the time.
a) Presentation and report writing: The final output of researchers’ efforts is the presentation of their work – their findings. Presentations are the ‘day of reckoning’ for researchers; a chance to make a mark for better or worse. Good presentations have a clear objective. They are short but to the point with little time spent describing the method and more time spent on the findings and conclusions. The use of visual aids to communicate the data through charts and diagrams has become sophisticated, and the use of PowerPoint means good clear information can be produced quickly and cheaply. While the personal presentation has impact, it is nevertheless ephemeral. The written report is more enduring and may be read over a long period of time. It is worth getting it right (it may come back to haunt its writer in times to come!). As with presentations, the same rules apply. The audience must be kept in mind and the writing style should quickly and clearly communicate the points leading logically to the conclusions and recommendations. This aspect is heightened in importance by the very nature of research findings. Most people cannot grasp complex figures and their implications instantly, and most find a clear graph easier to take a point from than a lengthy computer printout. It is possible, of course, for figures to give the wrong impression (as Benjamin Disraeli said: There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics) and care is always necessary in the presentation of such information. In the case of research, information has been produced at the expense of time and money and it is obviously wasteful if its poor presentation disguises rather than enhances its value.
vi. Knowledge distinguishes successful companies:
The risks faced by businesses today have never been greater. Competition is fierce at every level of the market. Small businesses are likely to be funded by a family’s life savings or borrowing. The cost of failure can be extremely high for the entrepreneur and for their associates. Large businesses face the same risks except that there are more noughts on the figures. The cost of failure for the large business may mean redundancies, scrapped plant, and dire financial losses.
Success and failure in business is a consequence of making the right or wrong decisions. The right decisions are easy with hindsight; much more difficult when the conditions are unknown. It is a relatively simple matter to plan the production resources and estimate the financial requirement for a business. And yet both these plans must be based on understanding the needs of the market, and on whether customers buy the products and then become repeat buyers.
It is those market needs that are most often misjudged, assumed or even taken for granted. Uncertainty about what the market wants, both now and in the future, is one of the most difficult problems with which businesses must cope. More than ever, decisions in business require robust information. If information on markets is a key to business success, it follows that the people who can supply it hold considerable power.
It is the role of market researchers to provide sound information to guide business decisions, set strategies and monitor the implementations to give feedback or whether it has been successful or unsuccessful. And, one might add, it is the role of marketing people and senior management to demand or organise such information. The techniques available to researchers have been developed and polished over time. There is no area where market research techniques cannot be used. For example, they are as useful in social marketing to probe why people drink and drive as they are to manufacturers selling alcoholic drinks: as useful to the government trying to obtain recruits for the armed forces as for theatre managers trying to measure their audiences’ likes and dislikes. The skill of the market researcher is not just being able to apply a special technique, but also knowing which to apply and when.
I have been associated with people of infant and baby market. India is one of the largest populations in the world with a size of 1.3 billion. The baby market is widely influenced by TFR. The Total Fertility Ratio (TFR) is the average number of children expected to be born per woman during her entire span of reproductive period. This is the rate at which population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration.
In 2017, India had a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.2, which is just above the WHO recommended replacement level of 2.1. This is a positive development although the declining figure could be an indicator for both childless and childfree couples. As per the report, the decline has been steeper in urban areas where TFR has come down from 4.1(1971) to 1.7 (2017)
Some countries which are at or nearing Zero Population Growth (ZPG) are Iceland, Germany, Portugal, Poland. Some countries worldwide which are experiencing Negative Population Growth (NPG) are: Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Hungary, Italy and Greece.
The baby products market is highly competitive. Innovation, customization, affordable pricing etc are the product differentiators. The number of baby care products in India has almost doubled between 2015 and 2016. The projected growth rate of baby product market is over 17% (CAGR) till 2020 which includes diapers, wipes, powders, lotions and other accessories. This growth rate is contributed by certain factors like:
1. Increasing disposable income.
2. Birth Rate.
3. Working mothers and nuclear families.
4. Increased awareness of the benefits of the products.
5. Online retailing.
6. Internet penetration.
The increasing disposable income of young parents will not be just for their own wellbeing but majorly for the childcare. The potential of baby care market is also aligned to the birth-rate of Indian where over 2 crore child births take place on a yearly basis thus creating a potential market. Working mothers also present a good opportunity for this market to flourish as mothers are the ones who take primary interest in the wellbeing of their children and with financial power in their hands coupled with online platforms will make the whole sales process smoother and faster. An increase in the awareness of the utility of the products coupled with the fast-paced lifestyle is another reason why mothers are opting for these products. The internet accessibility has given a big boost to the market of baby products as the penetration of 4G services is getting better on a daily basis where urban internet penetration is over 65% and rural internet penetration is over 20% and is growing. Internet accessibility with AI scripts will change the whole process of customer acquisitions as the new consumer base is tapped. The companies can approach the offline market using creative approaches like meets, forums, help lines etc.
Try to connect with top baby & kids ecommerce brands where you can list your product like:
4. Le Petit Kids.
7. Nature’s One.
9. Kids Furniture Warehouse.
10. Little Me.
11. Bellota Baby.
12. See Kai Run.
13. Feltman Brothers.
You can also contact top brands in the world to see if they can help you out:
2. Mee Mee
4. Johnson & Johnson
Besides if you do have any questions contact me: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath