Often considered too expensive, too unwieldy or addressing big businesses only, market research is also critical for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), writes Katie McQuater. This makes total sense considering that SMEs make up a large part of Europe's economy and industry. According to the <a href=”https://ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/index_en.cfm?pg=sme”>European Commission, the EU's 23 million SMEs account for 99% of all businesses and contribute up to 80% of employment in some industrial sectors, such as textiles. As a result, SMEs are essential elements of the economy, being responsible for driving innovation and competition in many economic sectors.

Regardless of their size, there are a few things that all businesses need to know to operate successfully, regardless of their market. Understanding who their customers are, how to attract them, how to make them happier and what they are willing to pay for a product or service is crucial, while the need for research becomes an imperative. SMEs don’t break the record and have a lot to gain from researching their customers if they are prepared to hear the bad as well as good feedback.

But smaller businesses sometimes assume that commissioning research will be too costly for them. Still, in the current context of DIY research and online methodologies gaining ground, studies can be conducted also with a limited budget. Many research agencies offer a wide range of tools covering different ranges of budgets, so that market research has truly become affordable.

Other SMEs are concerned that market research is too unwieldy, and they do not have the needed resources to allocate for this type of projects. However, many market agencies offer full-services and support for their clients during each stage of the studies.

Last but not least, SMEs often consider that research addresses big companies only. But market research can have a transformative effect on SMEs, helping them develop new products, improve customer satisfaction and retention, and finally increasing profit. So, combining dedicated market research tools with the support offered by market research specialists make it easier for smaller businesses to gain insights into their businesses.

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