Marketing research is the systematic gathering, recording, and analysis of data about issues relating to marketing products and services. Marketing research can be defined as a systematic procedure for providing managers with actionable decision making information. As such marketing research provides information that is useful in both the identification and the solution of marketing problems. The need for marketing research begins when a marketing manager faced with a decision realizes the need for additional information on which to base the decision.
It is an essential aspect to the control component of the marketing management process. Sound marketing decision whether made as part of the planning process, or otherwise, require accurate and timely information about markets, competitors and consumer behavior. However, no research project should be implemented unless management is committed to using the findings as an input for decision making. The marketing research process can be defined as the necessary steps in designing and implementing a market research project.
It is imperative that as a marketing manager you are familiar with the process so that you can participate in key decisions in research design and evaluation of the validity of the marketing research process. Familiarity with the process will also enable you to ascertain the true value of the information provided by marketing research. THE MARKETING RESEARCH PROCESS 1. DEFINE THE MARKETING RESEARCH PROBLEM & OBJECTIVE Classification of the problem Preliminary problem definition Exploratory investigation Final problem definition . DESING THE RESEARCH Information requirements Data collection approach Contact method Sampling plan Data collection instruments 3. IMPLEMENT THE RESEARCH Select/control interviewers Collect & edit the data 4. ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION & PRESENTATION Analyze & tabulate data Interpret the findings Evaluate the data against the research objectives Prepare the report Successful market research requires a disciplined approach to problem specification and data collection and analysis; it is not simply a matter of asking questions.
Many market research projects fail to influence decision making because of weaknesses in planning, execution, analysis and presentation. Both managers and researchers are more likely to obtain findings that will be useful for decision making if they follow a systematic approach to doing market research. Organizations engage in marketing research for two reasons: (1) to identify and (2) solve marketing problems. This distinction serves as a basis for classifying marketing research into problem identification research and problem solving research.
Problem identification research is undertaken to help identify problems which are, perhaps, not apparent on the surface and yet exist or are likely to company image, market characteristics, sales analysis, short-range forecasting, long range forecasting, and business trends research. Research of this type provides information about the marketing environment and helps diagnose a problem. For example, The findings of problem solving research are used in making decisions which will solve specific marketing problems.
Marketing research techniques come in many forms, such as Ad Tracking, Brand equity research, Brand name testing, Online panel, Positioning and Test marketing. All of these forms of marketing research can be classified as either problem-identification research or as problem-solving research. Marketing research is also often partitioned into two sets of categorical pairs, either by target market: Consumer marketing research, and Business-to-business (B2B) marketing research Or, alternatively, by methodological approach: Qualitative marketing research, and Quantitative marketing research
Marketing research uses the following types of research designs: Based on questioning: Qualitative marketing research – generally used for exploratory purposes – small number of respondents – not generalizable to the whole population – statistical significance and confidence not calculated – examples include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and projective techniques Quantitative marketing research – generally used to draw conclusions – tests a specific hypothesis – uses random sampling techniques so as to infer from the sample to the population – involves a large number of respondents – examples include surveys and questionnaires.
Techniques include choice modelling, maximum difference preference scaling, and covariance analysis. Based on observations: Ethnographic studies -, by nature qualitative, the researcher observes social phenomena in their natural setting – observations can occur cross-sectionally (observations made at one time) or longitudinally (observations occur over several time-periods) – examples include product-use analysis and computer cookie traces.
Experimental techniques -, by nature quantitative, the researcher creates a quasi-artificial environment to try to control spurious factors, then manipulates at least one of the variables – examples include purchase laboratories and test markets. Researchers often use more than one research design. They may start with secondary research to get background information, then conduct a focus group (qualitative research design) to explore the issues.
Finally they might do a full nation-wide survey (quantitative research design) in order to devise specific recommendations for the client. Marketing research uses the scientific method in that data are collected and analyzed to test prior notions or hypotheses. Marketing research is objective. It attempts to provide accurate information that reflects a true state of affairs. It should be conducted impartially. While research is always influenced by the esearcher’s research philosophy, it should be free from the personal or political biases of the researcher or the management. It should be emphasized also that marketing research is conducted to assist management in decision making and is not a means or an end in itself. Marketing research is essentially needed by companies as it is the task of providing management with relevant, accurate, reliable, valid, and current information.
Competitive marketing environment and the ever-increasing costs attributed to poor decision making require that marketing research provide sound information. Sound decisions are not based on gut feeling, intuition, or even pure judgment. Marketing managers make numerous strategic and tactical decisions in the process of identifying and satisfying customer needs. They make decisions about potential opportunities, target market selection, market segmentation, planning and implementing marketing programs, marketing performance, and control.
These decisions are complicated by interactions between the controllable marketing variables of product, pricing, promotion, and distribution. Further complications are added by uncontrollable environmental factors such as general economic conditions, technology, public policies and laws, political environment, competition, and social and cultural changes. Another factor in this mix is the complexity of consumers. Marketing research helps the marketing manager link the marketing variables with the environment and the consumers.
It helps remove some of the uncertainty by providing relevant information about the marketing variables, environment, and consumers. In the absence of relevant information, consumers’ response to marketing programs cannot be predicted reliably or accurately. Ongoing marketing research programs provide information on controllable and non-controllable factors and consumers; this information enhances the effectiveness of decisions made by marketing managers. Reference: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Marketing_research#Marketing_research_characteris tics