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How to use ChatGPT for market research

By Althea Storm · May 8, 2023
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I remember when I first heard about ChatGPT: I was scrolling lazily through Twitter, and in the replies to a tweet by a writer friend of mine, a bunch of marketers were going back and forth about whether or not the AI chatbot would replace marketers. 

The jury is still out, and while I don't think ChatGPT will replace (great) marketers any time soon, I have found that it can be a tremendous "assistant" to marketers. And not just for writing copy—one of my favorite use cases is using ChatGPT for market research.

How to write effective ChatGPT prompts for market research

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of using ChatGPT for market research, here are some important tips to keep in mind as you go.

  • Get specific. ChatGPT isn't a mind reader. The only way you can get quality results is to tell it exactly what you want (and don't want) it to do. Don't just ask who the target audience is for your industry. Instead, specify the product/service idea you want to get information about, and tell it exactly what you want to know (i.e., their income level, education, gender, location…or something totally different).

  • Role-play. Tell ChatGPT who it is before starting your market research queries. For example, Natalia Brzezinska, the Marketing and Outreach Manager at PhotoAiD, draws inspiration from marketing leaders like Seth Godin and Brian Dean. When she wants responses that align with the distinctive strategies of these leaders, she simply asks ChatGPT to act like them. And it doesn't have to be a real person: you might, for example, ask ChatGPT to act as an experienced market researcher or research assistant. This gives the tool more context, which results in better outputs.

  • Keep following up. Let each prompt build up on the one before it. Take a look at how Brian Rhea from JobLens.ai does this in the screenshot below. He uses ChatGPT to "expedite the 'fuzzy front-end' of customer research," and according to Brian, he's able to conduct preliminary jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) research—a job that typically takes weeks to complete—in mere minutes. Notice how he keeps specifying what he wants and doesn't want (e.g., "no introduction or concluding sentences," "use X answer format," "begin the response with 'When I…'"), building on what came before.

    Brian telling ChatGPT who they are, a consultant and expert in customer research, user experience, and jobs to be done theory, and then asking a series of questions and follow-up questions.

  • Don't rely on it alone. It's best to use ChatGPT at the very early stages of market research, when you're still playing around with an idea. Since ChatGPT doesn't take long to generate responses, you can quickly figure out if the idea you have will fly with your target audience. Once you've determined that it will, it's time to dig in with other resources, like customer reviews, social listening, and survey data.  

Tip: If you prompt ChatGPT with the same information and instructions every time you interact with it—e.g., "act as an experienced market researcher" or "tell me the audience's location, gender, and income level"—use ChatGPT's custom instructions feature to get the chatbot to automatically consider these when every time it generates a response. This way, you don't have to repeat these instructions every time.

4 ChatGPT prompts for market research

ChatGPT's ability to understand (and replicate) natural language can help you get a better understanding of your customers' motivations and sentiments—both of which inform market research. In talking to marketers who use ChatGPT for market research, I learned that they've been using it for all sorts of purposes, but these are the four that popped up the most:

  • Gathering and presenting publicly available data 

  • Developing buyer personas 

  • Identifying competitors

  • Getting suggestions for how to fill in existing market gaps 

I'm going to use a fictional scenario to demonstrate all this, and offer some suggestions for prompts.

Imagine you're a vegan restaurant in Chicago. You want to start an online delivery program where your customers can order healthy salad bowls via an app and have the food delivered to their doorstep. 

Let's dive in.

1. Gather and present publicly available data 

The first step in market research is to gather data on your demographic. There are many ways to do this, including market research surveys and customer interviews, but ChatGPT can speed up the process for publicly available information.  

Prompt: I want to start an online delivery program where my customers can order salad bowls via an online app and have the food delivered to their homes in Chicago. Act as a market researcher and give me information on the demographics of people most likely to order salads in Chicago—including age groups, income, education, gender, and specific location.

ChatGPT's answers to Althea's question about publicly available data

In under 10 seconds, ChatGPT determined that your target audience is young and middle-aged individuals who earn well, are health-conscious, have a good education, and live in affluent areas. There are even suggestions of specific places where you can find your ideal customers. This gives you an idea of the kind of people to focus your marketing efforts on. 

2. Develop buyer personas

Let's build on that answer and ask ChatGPT to develop buyer personas for your business. 

Prompt: Can you create detailed buyer personas for this online delivery program that delivers salad bowls to customers? Provide demographic info, psychographic info, needs, likes, and dislikes.

ChatGPT spit out two buyer personas: Healthy Hannah and Budget-Conscious Ben, complete with insights into their general behaviors and what they want—two things that are crucial in understanding your target market.

The two buyer personas from ChatGPT

They may not be perfect, but they give you an idea of the spectrum your customers might be on. On one hand, there's a high-earner who just wants top-notch salads. On the flip side, you have a low-income person who's trying to get a decent salad, while saving money on food expenses. 

3. Identify competitors

The next step is to identify competitors in your industry. 

Prompt: Can you make a table of the top 5 brands in the food delivery space, their website URLs, Instagram handles, and some important data about each of them?

A table of delivery competitors in ChatGPT

This table shows that, if you create your own online delivery program, you'd be competing against some of the largest food delivery brands in the world. Now, you're faced with two choices: create your own online delivery app and have only your loyal customers use it, or partner with one (or more) of these food delivery brands to bring your salad bowls to many people, loyal customers or not.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

3. Get suggestions for how to fill in market gaps

Finally, it's time to check if there are any market opportunities for differentiation. After all, you want your online delivery program to have something unique about it. 

Prompt: Are there any market opportunities or unique selling propositions (USPs) that current food delivery brands, like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Deliveroo, don't take advantage of?

I ran this prompt through ChatGPT twice, and (after admitting that it doesn't have real-time data), here's what it came up with. 

ChatGPT's suggestions for potential market opportunities

While some suggestions overlap in both answers, there are suggestions unique to each response (a good reminder to always run your prompts more than once). Now, you have a bunch of ideas of what to do to set your online delivery program apart from similar brands in the industry.

Get market research insights with ChatGPT

What I did above is just scratching the surface—imagine if I had continued to dig deeper with each answer. 

But remember: you should always support ChatGPT's answers with actual data you gather from speaking to your audience. Not just because it'll give you a more nuanced understanding of your market, but also because ChatGPT hallucinates: it can give you information that might sound reasonable but that's flat-out incorrect.

As you start to integrate ChatGPT into your market research, you can connect it to thousands of other apps, so you can do your research from wherever you spend your time. Or you can use the Zapier ChatGPT plugin to interact with your go-to apps directly from ChatGPT. 

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Related reading:

  • The best AI chatbots

  • ChatGPT vs. Bard: What's the difference?

  • 6 ChatGPT prompts that will generate great sales emails

  • The best AI marketing tools

  • How to build a custom version of ChatGPT with OpenAI's GPT builder

  • How to build an analysis assistant with ChatGPT

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