Small is beautiful, but difficult

Date of publication: September 1, 1989

Company: DVL Smith Ltd

Author: David Smith

Abstract:

In this paper it is argued that the solution to the problem of how to conduct effective research for small businesses lies not just in improved techniques, but also in redefining the market researcher’s role. It is argued that market research should become a more integrated part of the business development process. In this way, it is argued that market research will be better placed to demonstrate to small business clients that effective market research requires a range of higher order investigative and analytical craft skills that are not generally recognised by the wider business community. It is argued that it is these craft skills that give market research its power. It is this craft dimension that distinguishes TRUE research from head counting and number crunching. To illustrate this point the paper draws on three quite varied examples of small business problems requiring research: a decision whether or not to open a book shop; the question of whether to invest in machinery to produce specialist ethnic cheese products for the UK market; and a decision on the marketing opportunities for a new portable toilet. In short, this paper’s message is that in order to unleash the potential of the market research craft, ways must be found of ensuring market researchers work in close proximity to small business clients. It is important for small businesses to obtain a feel for the workings - the subtleties of the market research craft - and not see market research as a black box technique that generates an answer.

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