Marketing can be defined as: “The profitable satisfaction of a market’s needs”. As market research experts, B2B International are specialists in systematic, independent needs assessment research with a particular focus on unmet needs – the gap between what a market wants and what it currently receives.
So fundamental is the issue of meeting B2b customer needs, that almost all of our research studies contain a strong element of needs assessment research. In most cases, we employ a blend of qualitative and quantitative work.
The qualitative element is crucial, as understanding in detail the emotions behind a purchase decision is just as important as understanding the extent of a need within a market. Equally, quantitative work comes into its own when we want to understand a market’s unmet needs. This is achieved by measuring the ‘gap’ between what a market wants and what it currently receives.
Similarly, quantitative work helps us identify gaps in performance between different competitors and, through drivers’ analysis, the needs that really drive the purchase decision.
Usage and Attitude Research (U&A) is typically carried out to understand who the customers using your products and services are and what they think of them. A U&A survey can be carried out through telephone interviews or an online panel, and aims to explore the different uses and attitudes associated with your products and services.
What is involved?
A typical comprehensive needs assessment research study comprises two stages. First of all we conduct qualitative research – usually focus groups – to explore in detail the latent needs within the market. The discursive environment of a focus group is ideal for encouraging business people to ‘open up’ and talk about their needs directly, and also indirectly by revealing the challenges and frustrations they face.
This in-depth understanding allows us to design a questionnaire that measures the extent of a market’s needs, how these needs vary by customer groupings, the extent of any unmet needs and the needs that really drive the purchase decision. Information can be collected online or through telephone interviews.
This quantitative work usually incorporates a needs-based segmentation study, allowing value propositions to be built around the needs, wants and unmet needs of distinct groups.
What this means
Needs assessment research and usage and attitude research (U&A) allows you to build value propositions that meet the needs of your clients. These propositions should be engaging both on a rational/functional and emotional level and they should stand the test of time. Above all, they should ensure that you are charging for all of the value they provide rather than leaving money on the table.
Case study: Understanding the needs of new markets
Our client, a large petroleum producer, was weighing up whether to enter two new markets (the UK and Germany) with its lubricants offering and wished to fully understand the needs of both markets before committing the resources necessary to expanding.
What we did
B2B International conducted a two-stage process built around focus groups in both countries and then a quantitative needs assessment and segmentation, comprising 500 online and telephone interviews. The study unveiled significant unmet needs, which differed in each location. This fed into our client’s market entry strategy and tactics and, in particular, its country-by-country promotional actions.