Census is government’s market research

In the last couple of days, enumerators have been crisscrossing the proverbial land of a thousand hills and knocking on people’s doors to collect vital information on behalf of the government.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

In the last couple of days, enumerators have been crisscrossing the proverbial land of a thousand hills and knocking on people’s doors to collect vital information on behalf of the government.

The technical term here is population census. This is carried out in many countries usually after every ten years.

This process is really broader than just counting the number of people living in the country at a particular time. More information is collected regarding the demographics and quality of life people live in a country at a given time.

At the end of it all, government is armed with enough information about how many people (not just Rwandans) are living in the country, what they do for a living and how they generally live their lives.

It is this very information that governments world over use to plan for the people who live in the country. During elections, the people bestow power on the government to lead and plan for them.

However, this leadership and planning is not easy if essential statistics are merely hypothetical. That is why the slogan used by the statistics body to the effect that not being counted amounts to not counting is so suitable.

Statistics and general information is vital for planning even at the micro level. A family breadwinner ought to know not just how many people are in a household and thus need feeding but also their feeding habits.

Businesses ought to take heed of the same practice by embracing market research and doing so on a regular basis. Even before you think of opening up a business, you should conduct different surveys to find out whether whatever you intend to indulge in will make business sense.

Find out whether people really need your services or products. If indeed they do, then you can go ahead and open your business. However, to keep your business operational, you should also know who wants your services/products, how they want them and when they want them.

After finding the answers to all those questions, then efforts must be made to ensure that they are answered in the most effective way possible. Anything short of this and the customers will start to look elsewhere consequently leading to the death of your business.

All this information ought to be collected on a regular basis. You need to monitor consumer behaviour the same way a doctor would monitor a patient in hospital. A doctor often alters treatment in case he/she notices that a patient is not responding well to a particular kind of medication.

In doing your market research, you can be overt and covert about it. This is because many times customers prefer to be just that. Not sources of information from nosy business researchers. This means that you have to employ a multifaceted approach in collecting vital information about your services/products.

Do not also just focus on what your clients/customers are like. You may also need to look at whether what your competitor is doing right or wrong and then make necessary adjustments.

Anyone who has attended business school will tell you that information is always a company’s best asset. Governments know this and that is why they carry out a population census. If you are in business, follow suit and do not wait for 10 years.

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