Whoever said, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you,” wasn’t in market research! In this post, we’ll recap a recent webinar we held on this topic, and cover the essentials on the best practices for conducting market research with educators and related audiences.
Why do you want to conduct market research?
You should establish why you want to use market research before preparing a study. Maybe you want to understand the education market better, or to measure the impact of your marketing efforts. Perhaps you’re looking to develop strategy and need to ensure that you’re making sound decisions. Or, you wish to achieve higher sales, profits, or a return on an investment. Market research can help you with all of these goals and moreover, to avoid costly mistakes.
Research questions you may want answers to:
If your goal is investigating issues related to product development, you may wonder:
- Which of the product concepts we’ve ideated have the strongest potential?
- What is the interest level in these potential features?
- What is my target market willing to pay for our proposed new product?
You may want to evaluate a program or product after it has been in the market already:
- How did teachers evaluate their first year of using my K-3 reading curriculum?
- After using our product in their classrooms, how could it be improved?
Sometimes, reviewing the size of the market, and potential pockets of opportunities is your goal:
- What’s the market opportunity for our product in middle schools and high schools?
- What curriculum do educators intend to purchase for the 2018-2019 school year?
- What’s our market share compared to our competition?
Maybe your goal is brand awareness, or to conduct an equity study:
- What’s my brand equity compared with my competition?
- What brand perceptions do K-12 educators hold about us?
- Should we change our brand name to better reflect our current offerings?
Or, you might want to take a closer look at your customer satisfaction:
- How satisfied are my customers, and are they more or less satisfied than our competitors’ customers?
- Is our tech support doing a good job for our customers?
- Why have we lost accounts/subscribers/licenses?
Yet another target area for market research is on the sentiments and perceptions of your target audience:
- How do educators feel about ___?
- How confident are teachers about___?
- What are the prevailing attitudes when it comes to___?
Who to reach out to?
Once you’ve established why you want to conduct market research, it’s time to target who to reach out to. Your audience could consist of:
- classroom teachers
- curriculum specialists
- technology directors
- reading specialists
- school principals or headmasters
- district administrators
- guidance counselors
- librarians or media Specialists
- your specific customer base
The right kind of market research project for your intended goals:
There are different types of studies that have different results, based on your company’s needs, budget, and other parameters.
When you aim for the ability to forecast, predict, or measure/quantify, your best bet is a Quantitative study. These types of studies are perfect for when you require concept and product testing, customer or client satisfaction, to size the market and determine potential for your product or service, to assess the competition, or to evaluate your program or product.
This kind of study is beneficial if you are looking to create a “snapshot” of the market at any given point in time, and if you need large amounts of specific information from a dispersed audience. One of the best ways to gather these kinds of results is from conducting an online survey.
When you need to understand customer perceptions, feelings, or opinions, a good plan would be a Qualitative study. With these kinds of studies, you can identify industry trends, develop a strategic position, understand market drivers, pinpoint target markets, determine unmet needs, and craft effective marketing messages.
For this kind of study, since they are intrinsically exploratory and directional in nature, they allow for greater richness of the results. Online or in-person focus groups, or online bulletin boards are just a few ways you can conduct a qualitative study. In-person focus groups are conducted at a predefined location, usually with compensation or an incentive for the participants. They involve questions and answers, sampling of products, and live feedback from the group. Online bulletin boards consist of a website where questions are posted, and participants can “drop-in” to leave a comment like you would in the real world on a bulletin board. This kind of method is less formal, more anonymous, and allows for as much time as the participant has in answering questions.
What to do with your results:
Once you conduct your market research, how will you report your findings? It’s important to remember why you’re conducting the market research to begin with, and who the end user will be of this data or information you acquire. Are you conducting the study for your clients? Your sales team? Your constituents? The general population? How you word, present, and illustrate your findings will in turn impact how they are utilized. Use graphics, charts, and tables if necessary. Create a white paper, a PDF, or a research report if the need is there.
Example of market research from MDR
State of the K-12 Market – Teacher Technology Study
Who? – We wanted to understand the technology that teachers are using in the classroom.
Why? – To help people identify if there is an opportunity for their business, by better understanding how teachers use technology in the classroom.
We aimed to connect with teachers to find out the classroom hardware brands they use and access, as well as which apps and websites they regularly utilize. Considerations like internet access, school-wide learning management systems in place, as well as the pros and cons of technology in the classroom were all queried.
How? – both a Quantitative and Qualitative Study.
Quantitative – An Online survey, distributed to K-12 teachers, fielded between Nov 2017-Jan 2018. 4,400 teachers responded, and an incentive was offered consisting of a drawing for an e-gift card.
Qualitative– Conducted an Online Bulletin Board study in March-April 2018, with 58 teachers, recruited from our database. Individual incentives were offered. The respondents provided feedback on 6 specific activities over the 3 week course of the bulletin board.
Sample Survey Results:
Multiple Choice Question:
This is an example of results from a survey question asking the participants to select answers from multiple choices, about devices they use in the classroom.
This is an example of a set of open-ended, written in responses. We had enough common answers that we could present them in this graph. The instructions were, if the Learning Management System they use was not listed in a set of choices, there should select “other” and write in their reply.
This is an example of a sentiment question, where you want quantitative feedback on people’s opinions. The question was, what is your opinion of emerging technology in the classroom?
Bulletin Board Question:
This is an example of a question from a Bulletin Board: What technology do you have available in the classroom (or school) today?
We received quotes from teachers and here are some examples:
“We are 1:1 with Chromebooks. We also have iPads, and students may use personal devices at their teacher’s discretion.”
“I can sign-out Chromebooks to use for technology-required lessons, but students are also able to bring their own devices, which I take advantage of when the lesson is enhanced by technology but does not require it.”
Key Takeaways from our State of the K-12 Market Teacher Technology Study:
Competitive Landscape: With these quantitative and qualitative results, we gained an understanding of the top device brands, education apps and website resources, which revealed how various technologies stack up, and how providers can compete in the market.
Identify Pockets of Opportunity: When Google Classroom is taken out of the equation, the use of other Learning Management Systems was fragmented. And, some teachers reported not using a LMS at all. Gaps do exist, which should be a main takeaway from those who review these results.
Teacher Insights: Key challenges with technology in the classroom included a lack of restrictions, not enough training, and too few resources available for effective use. Consider teacher training and support materials and policy guidelines when developing classroom technology products.
Have any questions on the data in this post? You can reach us directly by calling 800-333-8802or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.