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Market Research: The tool in your toolbelt you didn't know you had...or needed


Join the Weather Ready Farms group on Connect Extension Here

We often hear the term “needs assessment” in Extension work. It’s an important pillar in a strong Extension program. As Extension professionals, we need to know about learners’ needs that can be potentially filled by our work. It’s important we conduct needs assessments to identify the “difference, or gap, between what is and what should be – or what is reasonably possible,” (NDSU Extension, n.d.). Conducting needs assessments allow us to develop educational approaches to directly meet the observed or expressed needs of our learners.

Market research is the activity or action of collecting information about consumers’ needs and preferences. It’s the process an entity – like a business, nonprofit, or even Extension – can use to gather important insights from the people who currently use their products or services or from people who they want to use their products or services. Market research is more of a business term. In fact, a simple search for “Extension” and “market research” yielded plenty of business- and ag business-focused information.

But market research applies to the work we do in Extension, especially for those of us who are considering the creation and development of a brand-new program, product, or service. What do our learners or potential learners like? What don’t they like? How are they using Extension? What are their current attitudes about [topic]? The list goes on!

As part of our eXtension NTAE fellowship project, we conducted market research to gain critical insight from Nebraska agricultural producers about their perceptions of Nebraska Extension, weather readiness, and the Weather Ready Farms certification program. Through this process, we learned a lot (and we’re still learning!), and we want to share the highlights with our broader Extension community. Market research may be the tool in your toolbox that you’re underutilizing. Until our fellowship project, we know it was for us.

I invite you to join us for a webinar on Thurs., July 16, at 1:00 pm CDT entitled “Conducting Market Research for Extension Programs: Nebraska Extension’s Weather Ready Farms.” More information about the webinar, presenters, and registration is available on Learn:


NDSU Extension (n.d.). Needs Assessment. Evaluation.

Weather Ready Farms, part of Nebraska Extension's Weather Ready Nebraska program, helps make farms more resilient to extreme weather. This program receives support from the eXtension Foundation as a 2019-2020 project with the USDA-NIFA New Technologies for Ag Extension Cooperative Agreement. Join the Weather Ready Farms group on Connect Extension here.

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