Market Research

Thorough marketing research is critical to the success of most value-added businesses. Farmers are accustomed to marketing the type of products where there is always a buyer. They may not like the price, but they can usually sell their products into a market just a few miles down the road.

This is not the case with most value-added agriculture projects. Thorough research needs to be conducted to see if anyone will buy your product. And if they will buy it, will they pay an adequate price for you to make a profit. Sometimes you will direct market your product directly to consumers, in which case you need to study consumer needs and behavior. Other times you will sell your product to a middleman or as an ingredient for another product. Regardless, the consumer will be the ultimate buyer of the product, and you need to know the consumer's needs and desires, in addition to the structure and needs of those taking the product to the consumer.

Before you embark on an effort to do marketing research, you need to understand the process. If you are going to do your own Marketing Research, you need to know the Marketing Research Tools available to you. If your research involves surveying customers and others, reading Identifying Your Customer. Your research may involve tools like Conducting Focus Groups.

A Do-It-Yourself Producer’s Guide to Conducting Local Market Research explains the concepts behind market research and describes how it may be used to identify and develop new markets. Details are provided about collecting and analyzing readily available local data as well as drawing conclusions about product positioning, pricing and supply/demand determination.

The 2002 Census of Agriculture provides a wealth of new information that will help frame production, marketing and policy decisions about American agriculture.

For more information on this topic, see the links listed below of articles posted on related Web sites.

Understanding Marketing Research

  • Market Research Meets the "People Factor" - HBS Working Knowledge -- Great market research doesn't always lead to great results. Why? After a close look at sources of friction between managers and market researchers.

Focus Groups and Surveys

  • Survey Says? Identify Your Objectives – HBS Working Knowledge – Done right, surveys can reduce new product risk; generate insights about employees, customers, and markets; and align communications programs with target constituencies. But done poorly, they can derail your organization.

Conducting Marketing Research


Revised May, 2019.