The data collection and data analysis phases of the market study mark the point at which the project begins to uncover the information that will be used to guide an organization’s strategic decision making. In this week’s post we will discuss the first of these two key phases: data collection.
In these phases of the project, it is important that the project team is as impartial and unbiased as possible. As such, FUND Consulting recommends that an organization engage a third-party organization to collect and analyze market study data. This ensures that an organization receives the most objective information that it needs to truly understand and respond to the need and demand in its service area.
With the key research questions and research tools in place, the market study moves into the data collection phase. When conducting a market study, FUND Consulting generally utilizes key informant interviews (KIIs) and survey data to uncover micro-level trends as well as secondary data collection to provide insight into larger, macro-level trends in the service area. As discussed previously, FUND uses these research tools in combination to yield the most robust set of data for analysis, and for their ability to reinforce key trends and themes in the research as well as uncover hidden ones.
When conducting a market study, FUND works closely with each client to thoroughly to consider the individuals and organizations that can provide the information necessary to answer each of the key research questions. Additionally, FUND also tests and refines all KII and survey questions with the client prior to collecting data to ensure that all questions are clearly understood and will elicit information that responds directly to the key research questions.
When developing the list of key informants and survey participants at the outset of the data collection process, FUND asks each client to reach out directly to contacts in its network to gauge both their interest and fit for the research. The project team may also requests recommendations from key informants during the process interview process to find other participants that can provide additional insight. This allows the project team to cast the widest net possible to locate those individuals and organizations with the greatest amount of knowledge and experience in a particular service area.
For example, in 2011 FUND Consulting conducted a market study on behalf of First State Community Loan Fund (FSCLF), a CDFI based in Delaware that provides loan capital to small businesses, community development organizations, and affordable housing developers. FSCLF was interested in expanding its service area into the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Drawing on the organization’s network of contacts and recommendations from key informants, FUND Consulting was able to conduct interviews with a critical mass of individuals in the targeted expansion areas who provided valuable insight into the need and demand for FSCLF’s products. As a result, the organization used the results of the market study to strategically expand its geographic service area into Southeastern Pennsylvania.
As we can see, the foundation of successful data collection lies in the ability to focus the research tools on uncovering the information that will respond directly to the project’s key research questions. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post in which we will discuss phase 3 of the market study process: data analysis.