In some ways, feasibility studies are like football-you can go wide or deep with the research, but you often cannot do both at the same time. We often find that many clients will have a couple of concepts they would like to test, but also want to know “what else” they can offer. As a market researcher, this can be a difficult situation to navigate. While concept testing is a routine component of a feasibility study, it is inherently different from determining untapped areas of opportunity for a client. Getting the client to understand the differences between the two types of work can be challenging, but we have a couple of tips to facilitate the conversation.
- When it’s best to go “wide”
This approach is best when the client is just starting to dip their feet in the water, and would like to gain information on many different topics. Consider this example: a higher education client is contemplating the ability to add to their graduate program offerings, but does not have particular program concepts in place and is not sure what the best options would be for their university. In this scenario, we would suggest secondary research of local higher education graduate offerings (competitive analysis) to determine potential gaps in the market. This involves more in-depth research than a typical competitive analysis, where programs and potential competitors are already known. Through compilation of local competition, you can determine what programs will face steep competition due to a large market share, and which programs may be practical options. Since this phase of the research is exploratory, it is important for the client to conduct follow-up research with a narrowed focus to determine the true market feasibility of particular offerings. This can be achieved through an analysis of occupational supply and demand (to determine labor market needs), as well as a student demand survey of potential students to gauge interest.
- When it’s best to go “deep”
This approach is appropriate for clients who have one or more concepts that they would like to test in the market, with the purpose of gaining insight into the viability of those concepts. Consider the previous example of the higher education client. They have completed the first phase of secondary research and have found that competition is minimal for Masters’ programs in Statistics. Now they need to determine if there is a need for masters-level trained statisticians in the work force, and whether there is interest among potential students to fulfill enrollment needs. For this phase of the research, we would gather data on regional and national market demand for statisticians who hold a master’s degree using available labor supply and demand databases. If the current and projected market is anticipated to be strong, meaning the number of anticipated regional job openings is large enough to accommodate program graduates, we would then implement a focused student demand survey. The survey would incorporate the current program concept for the Masters program in Statistics to measure interest levels in program components (such as credit hour requirements, tuition rates, proposed schedule-day/evening classes, etc.) as well as branding reactions to determine awareness and perception of the institution.
If you’re interested in conducting a program feasibility study, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.