Research of demographic and geographic data from a wide range of usually online sources. This includes, but is not restricted to, national statistics, local and national government publications, educational, industrial and other research publications, and expert opinion pieces.
Having a research plan will help define a list of what key information you would like to find out.
Many external, as well as internal organisational, factors can affect small businesses or public or private sector organisations, so it makes good sense to map out what specific things you need to know.
A good way of doing this is by PESTEL analysis. This research covers Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal factors, both at home &/or abroad.
- Is the current political or economic climate relevant to your organisation?
- Are you interested in keeping abreast of technological developments which might change how you manufacture, and distribute your products or how you engage with your customers (eg via social media)?
- Are social factors pertinent, eg population characteristics or customer buying habits or attitudes?
- Are environmental and ethical/sustainability issues important to how your business is operated or perceived by your customers?, or
- Do you need to know how your business stands with regard to UK legislation, product safety or standards, or consumer/employee rights, for example, or, if you are trading or planning to trade internationally, in relation to the countries with whom you trade?
Ahead of submitting a bid to win a Government-funded contract to deliver a new service, Company A wished to better understand the characteristics of the population in the new geographical areas covered by the proposed contract.