02 May 2019
Nadia Morozova with 5 research tips for start-ups

A start-up's journey is all about facing various business challenges and finding the most creative ways to solve them. However, the nature of start-ups to think lean doesn’t limit the importance of an in-depth understanding of target consumers and markets. This is why I have decided to consider the key business challenges which I have faced working with start-ups, and how marketing research can help to empower business decision-making.


Tip 1

Problem: Too diversified portfolio /  too many ideas
Solution: Calculate size of the prize for each business idea

I’m sure that you as a start-up love your business idea and work hard on it! Some of your efforts fail, new ideas come up and quite soon you might end up facing a situation when you have gone in a variety of very different directions. 

If this sounds familiar, then it might be the time for you to get a helicopter view on your business and identify the key business question that requires a holistic analysis of the market and its potential. It should allow you to identify the 'size of the prize' (volume / value that you can achieve) for each business idea and decide which may have the biggest long-term potential.

Tip 2

Problem: Too high focus on margins
Solution: Focus on consumers willingness to pay

Being a start-up means that you are forced to think about your financials 24-hours-a-day. Quite often, it makes you too focused on your margins.

In this instance, you need to think critically what the most effective and efficient pricing model is. Marketing research can help you to incorporate the customer response in your pricing strategy.

Be warned, traditional pricing research is often over hyped.

That’s why you need to look for solutions which will help to investigate customers behavior rather than their claims. You can find more about this in one of my blog posts here.

Tip 3

Problem: Overreliance on quantitative data
Solution: Start with qualitative consumer discoveries

We all love numbers, that’s why as a start-up you may assume that a quantitative study is something you really need. 

Before conducting any research, you first need to determine the key business question and translate it into a clear research objective. In many cases your business question will be related to the initial stage of development of the business and / or product offering. Further explorative research might be beneficial.

Tip 4

Problem: Too narrow range of communication channels
Solution: Evaluate diverse communication channels

Despite very disruptive business ideas, start-ups usually don’t look broadly enough at the potential communication channels. Yes, digital is important, but it’s not the only one!

Therefore, it’s vital not to focus solely on the communication channels that are popular among other start-ups, or the only ones you feel more comfortable working with. The critical point here is to study the key consumers touchpoints (where consumers get information about your product / service during their purchase decision-making journey) and what communication message will be the most effective in these specific channels.

As you build your experience, analysis of your media investments in terms of their return on investment (ROI) will provide you more guidance for the future media choices.

Tip 5

Problem: Lack of consumer feedback
Solution: Conduct co-creation workshops with consumers

Start-ups come with brilliant product / service ideas but are often missing critical consumer feedback.

It’s vital to start incorporating the consumer's voice from the early stage of your business and always stay up to date on the consumer needs and wants.

One such research methodology is co-creation workshops (where you discuss with consumers product ideas and / or prototypes and work together on how to bring them in the real life) which can fuel both product innovation and renovation.

Nadia Morozova is an Analytics & Insights Expert and has worked at Procter & Gamble, The Boston Consulting Group and Nestlé Group. You can read her blog here.

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