Introduction to Marketing Research

Introduction to Marketing Research As to its definition, Marketing Research is the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face. It serves marketing management by providing information which is relevant to decision making.
The manager or other individual initiating the research must provide guidance to the researcher in the form of a research brief. This document should state the purpose of the research, its objectives, the time by which it must be completed, the budget to which the researcher must work in developing the research design and the timing and frequency of any interim reports which the researcher is expected to make. The Marketing research Process. Marketing research is gathered using a systematic approach. An example of one follows: 1. Define the problem. Never conduct research for things that you would ‘like’ to know.
Make sure that you really ‘need’ to know something. The problem then becomes the focus of the research. The objective of the research should be defined clearly. To ensure that the true decision problem is addressed, it is useful for the researcher to outline possible scenarios of the research results and then for the decision maker to formulate plans of action under each scenario. The use of such scenarios can ensure that the purpose of the research is agreed upon before it commences. For example, why are sales falling in New Zealand? 2. How will you collect the data that you will analyze to solve your problem?

Do we conduct a telephone survey, or do we arrange a focus group? Marketing research can classified in one of three categories: •Exploratory research •Descriptive research •Causal research These classifications are made according to the objective of the research. In some cases the research will fall into one of these categories, but in other cases different phases of the same research project will fall into different categories. •Exploratory research has the goal of formulating problems more precisely, clarifying concepts, gathering explanations, gaining insight, eliminating impractical ideas, and forming hypotheses.
Exploratory research can be performed using a literature search, surveying certain people about their experiences, focus groups, and case studies. When surveying people, exploratory research studies would not try to acquire a representative sample, but rather, seek to interview those who are knowledgeable and who might be able to provide insight concerning the relationship among variables. Case studies can include contrasting situations or benchmarking against an organization known for its excellence. Exploratory research may develop hypotheses, but it does not seek to test them.
Exploratory research is characterized by its flexibility. •Descriptive research is more rigid than exploratory research and seeks to describe users of a product, determine the proportion of the population that uses a product, or predict future demand for a product. As opposed to exploratory research, descriptive research should define questions, people surveyed, and the method of analysis prior to beginning data collection. In other words, the who, what, where, when, why, and how aspects of the research should be defined.
Such preparation allows one the opportunity to make any required changes before the costly process of data collection has begun. There are two basic types of descriptive research: longitudinal studies and cross-sectional studies. Longitudinal studies are time series analyses that make repeated measurements of the same individuals, thus allowing one to monitor behavior such as brand-switching. However, longitudinal studies are not necessarily representative since many people may refuse to participate because of the commitment required. Cross-sectional studies sample the population to make measurements at a specific point in time.
A special type of cross-sectional analysis is a cohort analysis, which tracks an aggregate of individuals who experience the same event within the same time interval over time. Cohort analyses are useful for long-term forecasting of product demand. •Causal research seeks to find cause and effect relationships between variables. It accomplishes this goal through laboratory and field experiments. 3. Select a sampling method. Do we us a random sample, stratified sample, or cluster sample? The sampling frame is the pool from which the interviewees are chosen. The telephone book often is used as a sampling frame, but have some shortcomings.
Telephone books exclude those households that do not have telephones and those households with unlisted numbers. Since a certain percentage of the numbers listed in a phone book are out of service, there are many people who have just moved who are not sampled. Such sampling biases can be overcome by using random digit dialing. Mall intercepts represent another sampling frame, though there are many people who do not shop at malls and those who shop more often will be over-represented unless their answers are weighted in inverse proportion to their frequency of mall shopping.
In designing the research study, one should consider the potential errors. Two sources of errors are random sampling error and non-sampling error. Sampling errors are those due to the fact that there is a non-zero confidence interval of the results because of the sample size being less than the population being studied. Non-sampling errors are those caused by faulty coding, untruthful responses, respondent fatigue, etc. There is a tradeoff between sample size and cost. The larger the sample size, the smaller the sampling error but the higher the cost.
After a certain point the smaller sampling error cannot be justified by the additional cost. While a larger sample size may reduce sampling error, it actually may increase the total error. There are two reasons for this effect. First, a larger sample size may reduce the ability to follow up on non-responses. Second, even if there is a sufficient number of interviewers for follow-ups, a larger number of interviewers may result in a less uniform interview process. 4. How will we analyze any data collected? What software will we use? What degree of accuracy is required?
Before analysis can be performed, raw data must be transformed into the right format. First, it must be edited so that errors can be corrected or omitted. The data must then be coded; this procedure converts the edited raw data into numbers or symbols. A codebook is created to document how the data was coded. Finally, the data is tabulated to count the number of samples falling into various categories. 5. Decide upon a budget and a timeframe. 6. Go back and speak to the managers or clients requesting the research. Make sure that you agree on the problem!
If you gain approval, then move on to step seven. 7. Go ahead and collect the data. 8. Conduct the analysis of the data. 9. Check for errors. It is not uncommon to find errors in sampling, data collection method, or analytic mistakes. 10. Write your final report. This will contain charts, tables, and diagrams that will communicate the results of the research, and hopefully lead to a solution to your problem. Watch out for errors in interpretation. Sources of Data – Primary and Secondary There are two main sources of data – primary and secondary. Primary research is conducted from scratch. It is original and collected to solve the problem in hand. -Secondary research, also known as desk research, already exists since it has been collected for other purposes. Marketing research by itself does not arrive at marketing decisions, nor does it guarantee that the organization will be successful in marketing its products. However, when conducted in a systematic, analytical, and objective manner, marketing research can reduce the uncertainty in the decision-making process and increase the probability and magnitude of success.

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