How to Understand Your Municipal Market Research
A sound community development strategy requires solid market research. Collecting data for market research can help your municipal Council understand the community better, and then make decisions that best support the immediate and long term needs of the community. This data should be specific, localized, and relevant to the community you are working to develop. Overall, generalized nationwide data can be helpful in certain situations, and it can supplement local data as well, but if you’re going to develop a local brand or community initiative, only accurate, local data will suffice.
Often CAO stressors can be related to the feedback they hear in the community, especially when they can’t be sure how much of the community agrees with it. Market research can help allay some of those uncertainties, and give your CAO the information they need to confidently answer questions about how Council is addressing identified issues. Good data can help your Council and CAO drive up citizen satisfaction levels and build a stronger community.
Table of Contents (5 minute read)
Should You Outsource Municipal Market Research?
Most municipal management agree on the importance of new market research. But understanding, analyzing, and interpreting the data collected can be challenging. You may be able to undertake the data collection on your own with in-house staff. But crunching the numbers after, interpreting them, and applying them to your specific community strategies is a bit more complicated.
An external consultant can provide an extra set of eyes to help you make more-informed decisions. The most useful consultants will get reliable community data by using accurate, scientific surveying. They will then analyze those public polling results and present them as clearly marked citizen priorities. A consultant should tap into two valuable areas of data when advising you on your community initiatives:
- Project Research Support — to allow you to learn which community projects are viable and which are not, or to provide the support you need to make a struggling project possible.
- Municipal Research — to give you insight into what your constituents prioritize, what they want to pay for, and what they don’t. This involves polling citizens to get their opinions on local initiatives.
Think of a consultant as a helpful informant, providing access to a representative section of the population in real time. They sift through data so you don’t have to, providing information and helping communicate citizen priorities. In short, better communication facilitates better results, leading to a better community for all.
How to Choose a Market Research Firm
When you choose external consultants to help with municipal projects, it's important that they have high standards and deliver excellent value and results. Taxpayers want to know that their tax dollars are being used to find out valuable things that will help make their community a better place. Market research should help you to improve citizen satisfaction.
Here are some of the most important things to look for, and key questions to ask, when you decide to hire a market research company.
In order to decide on a market research firm, you’ll want to know what technology they use to collect data, how they will deliver meaningful data for you, and what the service will cost.
The Best Technology for Market Research
The use of technology in market research is essential. Modern tools designed specifically for different applications can give municipalities fast and accurate data that is relevant and easy to apply to local strategies. Technology is what allows MDB Insight to deliver market research data much faster than traditional methods would allow. Ask your potential candidates what technology they use to collect, analyze, and interpret the data they will collect.
How Can Data Be Meaningful?
In order for data to be meaningful for your community development plans, it needs to relate specifically to the projects you’re considering, and the service changes you’re making. Data that is measured for the sake of measuring data may be difficult to translate or apply to the work you do. To get meaningful data from a market research firm, they need to tailor their products, surveys, and interactions to your community’s specific needs. Ask the firms you’re considering how they will tailor their methods to your community.
What Questions Should I Ask Potential Market Research Companies?
There are many different questions you may want to ask different firms, but a few key questions will really tell you whether or not you want to work with that company.
- How much does market research cost? Municipal budgets aren’t endless, so you have to know up front what cost you’ll need to justify to Council, management, and your citizens.
- What will this data show me that I don’t already know? Innovation is the key here. You want to hear about a company using new methods to derive importance. Repeat data is not helpful, so listen for an answer that includes innovative methods and ideas.
- How fast will the data be delivered? In order to best serve your community, you need data while it's fresh and relevant. Data that is 1 or 2 years old is not helpful. If you can’t get the data fast, look elsewhere.
- Can I try out the tool or see a demo? This is important to help you understand how their process works, and whether or not it seems like a good fit for your community.
Understand Market Research with Citizen Satisfaction IQ™
MDB Insight’s Citizen Satisfaction IQ™ relies on cutting-edge technology and representative data collection to deliver actionable insights. Traditional surveys rely on narrowly defined methods: calling only landlines, which fewer and fewer people use, or reeling in participants with incentives such as gift certificates. These methods tend to attract participants who have extra time; the data from such surveys won’t be representative of your entire community. Citizen Satisfaction IQ™, however, uses an all-encompassing mix of surveying methods to get the most accurate results possible. These methods include:
- computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI),
- interactive voice response (IVR),
- online polling,
- a tax sensitivity calculator, for uncovering citizen funding priorities,
- in-person interviews, and
- panels and focus groups.
Once the data is collected, MDB Insight analyzes the results to tell the story behind your residents’ priorities and to bring you the solutions you need, based on real evidence. Representative data is valuable to market research because it is the only way to ensure every segment in the community is heard, and that decisions are made based on facts
Ways That You Can Use Market Research
Saying you can use market research for anything isn’t that helpful if you haven’t seen examples of how it can be used. Trends in market research 2019 showed that collected data can add incredible value to the decision process for municipalities. Here are a few examples of how market research can help municipalities find answers and solutions.
Can We Improve Public Transport?
Market research about public transport systems can help you identify ridership trends and opportunities for expansion and improvement, and find efficiencies in the system.
Would a Skatepark Add Value to Our Community?
Skateparks are quite popular, but you need to know how they can add value before you prioritize the investment of building one. Market research can help you identify the potential economic, cultural, and community connection benefits a skatepark might bring to your community.
Would Bike-Sharing Work in My Town?
Bike-sharing seems like a great idea in theory. It should help decrease congestion, promote better health, and reduce environmental impacts. Market research can help you determine if your community is supportive of a bike-sharing program, whether they would use it, and how you could run it for optimum ridership and cost-efficiency.
Are There Any Green Transportation Options That Would Work in My Region?
Many of the green transportation options that work in big cities might not be applicable to rural or smaller communities. For example, HOV lanes may be pointless in a small town. There are many examples of green transportation options across Canada, and market research can help you determine which ones would best suit your community.
Is My Community Walkable?
Many communities have realized that their Walk Score can have an impact on their ability to attract new residents and investments. Market research can help you figure out how to improve walkability to make your community more welcoming.
How Can We Become an Environmental Sustainability Policy Example in Our Region?
Leading the charge towards environmental sustainability makes your community attractive to people looking to relocate, and to companies looking to expand or move their offices. Market research can help you become a great environmental sustainability policy example.
Can Market Research Inform My Labour Force Strategy?
Labour market data can help workforce development professionals create strong workforce development strategies with measurable KPIs to deliver results. Current and reliable data can help improve connections between local employers and employees. It can help you identify or recruit talent to meet the needs of local businesses.
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