The best market research tools and methods for start-ups in South Africa

by | May 23, 2023 | Market Research

First comes research, then comes launching

Ever come up with a product or service idea and realise a few days (or years) later that it’s actually impractical? Or even worse, you tell someone about it, and they reply, “Mmm, sounds cool,” and continue watching YouTube shorts?

We all come up with one or more brilliant ideas in our lifetime, whether at a braai, in the shower or during a moment of struggle. But more often than not, you get a business idea, store it in your brain’s “brilliant ideas” folder, and let it gather dust.

One day, an idea is too plausible and valuable for the dusty folder. Like your high school sweetheart, you can’t stop thinking about how amazing it is, what the future may hold, and why you haven’t noticed or thought about it before.

You decide it’s time to make a move.

What’s your first step (after telling your mom and best friend)? If you’re thinking “designing a logo” or “printing brochures”, please continue reading…


You love it, mom loves it, BFF loves it, but will customers love it?

Look, no one is saying your mom has bad taste in product or service development, but unless she is a professional market researcher, thank her for the confidence and move on.

Now that we’ve covered family and business, the next step is market research to determine viability, customers, pricing, competitors, brand awareness strategies, and funding (if applicable)

Understandably, you may not have the moolah to jump straight into this (but if you do, great!). Being strapped for cash is a significant hurdle that prevents start-ups from…erm…starting up, so you’ll need to find ways to do market research on a tight or non-existent budget.

Remember: Cost-effective market research tools and methods are temporary, so make sure you turn to better, more in-depth means when you have the means.


Choosing market research methods, tools and types

  1. Surveys
Online surveys are great tools for collecting qualitative data from potential customers. Depending on the product or service type, you’d ask respondents a series of (short and sweet) open- or close-ended questions.

This is the most common type of market research because it’s cost-effective, efficient and people love giving their opinions – so it works. Some online survey tools, like SurveyMonkey, offer paid and free packages to design and track your survey results.

  1. To the source
If you’d rather go to the dentist than speak to strangers, this is not for you. Interviews and focus groups are face-to-face (in-person or virtual) conversations with people from your target market. You can collect opinions and perspectives directly from your ideal customer and have real-time lightbulb moments.

  1. Stalking
Grab your detective hat and newspaper for this one. Apart from getting information directly, competitor research is the most powerful research you can do. You get to see what others are doing right and wrong, why they do it and how you can do it differently. Plus, there’s a firsthand look into the feasibility of your product or service.

Check out your competition online or visit their offices to explore their customer service, product quality and vibe. It’s not cheating if you’re just observing…

  1. Straight stats
Although it’s seldom very specific unless it’s your data, statistics work well from an overall point of view. With tools like Statista, you can tap into consumer behaviour, trends and opinion statistics to get a broad idea of past and present developments. Think with Google is another tool that allows you to find data, analysis, thought leadership and industry trends. 

  1. Ask a pro
Market research isn’t just critical for your knowledge and insight but for your business plan as well. You need to talk numbers and real-time data to get any funding or investor buy-in. Ask a market research professional to use specialised tools and methods so you can go deep into industries, trends and analysis.


Call us. We know all about research rabbit holes.

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