Observation for your business!

I am sure you have seen them. Persons standing at the side of the road recording cars passing by at a particular location.  Or maybe you have seen it on shows on television. Individuals observing the choices of purchasers. Observation research can be an excellent tool for your business. Though highly technical in reality, by your simple scoping of your potential buyers, you can assess their habits and behaviours so to understand your market.

Observation research involves active surveillance. It can take many forms. For example;

–    Track the foot traffic into your clothes store at various times of the year or even the month

–     Noting the buying habits of products in a store, including the products that consumers stare at or linger by the most

–    Estimating the decision-making time span for buyers

All in all, once the desire to deeply understand the consumer and the environment is there, observation is a great option.

In going about your observational studies, make sure to consider the questions you would like to answer. These may include:

1)    Exactly what activity is being done here?

2)    What movements are being made by participants? How are they moving about- with confidence with hesitation?

3)    Do the location and its atmosphere deter or encourage the habits of the buyer?

Really think about all possible scenarios and influences and make a list that is comprehensive but memorable as you head on out.

There are many groupings of observational research. But in the name of simplicity, we will look at two grouping types. Observational research can be Covert or Overt. Ethics is a crucial aspect of research, so covert investigation, though more beneficial to preserving the naturalness of activity (as buyers who know they are being surveyed may act superficially), may not be the most honest method. If participants are told about the study and observed, overt observational research, buyers may put on a show and the results will not be completely usable.

There are also the opposing classes of participatory observation versus direct observation. In participatory observation, the research immerses himself in the environment and socially networks and inter-mingles with buyers. In direct observation, however, these activities do not occur and participants are surveyed from afar.

In taking the observation research approach, some limitations may be enhanced by the inexperience of a business owner. Qualitative research can be data rich and unmanageable to a non-professional causing lost information. Personal bias can also be unintentionally introduced by the researcher. In addition, the self-researching business owner may not have the capacity to discover the depth in the data.

To help avoid the previously mentioned pitfalls, Data Minders Business Research encourages you to plan. Sloppy planning of observational research can make the process overwhelming. Look up project planning tips and strategies to make your work a bit easier and well organised. Go out with a clear mind and take time to record your observations. Do not go with preconceived ideas about what you want to find.

According to Robert Baden-Powell “If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” But observational research is a process that needs skill, experience and technique. While we at Data Minders Business Research encourages small business to do it on their own when they can, observational research requires an expert hand to ensure quality information for the best decision making.

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