Market Research: The Secret Competitive Advantage in Print
Running a successful print business requires that executives oversee a variety of activities to ensure success. The plant must be run efficiently and produce a high-quality product. Marketing must produce a steady stream of prospects at the top of the sales funnel. Sales must close business and develop long-term customer relationships. And the list goes on.
With all that a print executive has to oversee, it’s understandable that conducting or commissioning market research/intelligence often falls down the priority list. However, understanding the benefits provided by market intelligence can lead print executives to make the informed decision on whether or not to invest in it. Done right, market research can reveal hidden opportunities for revenue growth, deliver customer insight and help read the tea leaves on where the industry is headed.
Identifying Market Needs, Wants, and White Space
One of the chief benefits market research can provide is insight into your market’s needs and wants. This insight can very often identify areas of opportunity or expansion.
For example, imagine that ABC Commercial Printer Co. commissions a market research study to identify print buyer needs and wants.
They select a market research firm by identifying the firm that:
- Has print industry subject matter expertise
- Has established market research expertise, including demonstrated experience designing a research methodological approach to meet their business objectives
- Has the audience (in this case, print buyers) to survey and/or interview
- Demonstrates an understanding of their objectives in commissioning the research and provides a clear roadmap of how they will meet their objectives.
After reviewing ABC Co’s objectives in commissioning the research, the research firm designs a research approach that includes:
- A structured web survey of 250 print buyers from a cross-section of industries. The survey will ask a series of questions that probes how, why and when print buyers purchase print
- Ten in-depth print buyer phone interviews designed to probe print buyers’ needs and wants and adds qualitative insight around the quantitative survey results.
The resulting insight from the study and corresponding action ABC Co. took is shown in the table below.
|Research Insight||ABC Co. Action Items|
More than Surveys and Interviews
While in-depth quantitative surveys and telephone interviews can be very valuable in identifying the state of the market and fleshing out market opportunities, there are other types of market research that can provide valuable and actionable insight.
Below are several examples of other research or consulting engagements that can support the print service provider in market expansion, landscape assessment and strategic decision making.
- SWOT Analysis: A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats analysis of the competitive landscape.
- New Market Opportunity Analysis: Support in new market analysis and expansion.
- Focus Groups: Conducting in person or virtual focus groups to gain insight into products or services
- Data Gathering and Analysis: Desk research to gather data and analyze it to support strategic decision making.
Rethinking Investment in Market Intelligence
Print service provider executives are busy managers with significant responsibility across the organization. Although there is a lot competing for limited resources, investing in market research, can uncover new revenue opportunities, guide strategy, highlight new markets and benchmark against the competition. Print service providers who have not already done so should consider strategically investing in the secret competitive advantage of print: market research.
Nathan Safran is Vice President, Research for NAPCO Media. Nathan is a former Forrester Research Analyst with deep experience designing custom research solutions that solve client business problems. Nathan works with the subject matter experts across NAPCO’s brands to design research solutions that leverage NAPCO’s engage audiences and provides deep insight. Nathan is a frequent speaker at industry events and his research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Fortune Magazine.