Companies need information about the market to answer the questions:
“Marketing research is the systematic design, collection, analysis, and reporting of data and findings relevant to a specific marketing situation facing the company.”
Kotler, Philip: Marketing Management. Millennium Edition. Prentice Hall.
The company might obtain data in various ways. The procedure contains
survey – observational research – focus group – behavioural data – experimental research
using internal or external sources.
Large companies have their own marketing research department. Small companies can hire agencies or conduct research in affordable ways, such as
Step 1: Define the problem and research objectives
Research projects can be exploratory, descriptive and causal.
Step 2: Develop the Research Plan
This stage requires decisions on data sources, research approaches, research instruments, sampling plan, and contact methods.
Secondary data do exist already, primary data have to be gathered for a specific purpose.
Sources of secondary data: customer data base, data warehousing and data mining
Observational research – listen how customers talk about the company, use competitors’ products or services
Focus groups – 6-10 persons discuss the products or services guided by a skilled moderator
Survey research – descriptive research – carried out to learn about knowledge, beliefs, preferences and satisfaction of customers
Behavioural data – customers leave traces everywhere – on the web, when ordering from catalogues, using credit cards
experimental research – to find cause-and-effect relationships, most scientific method.
Questionnaires: are the most common instrument to collect primary data. A questionnaire consists of a set of questions presented to respondents for answers The marketing researcher develops the form, wording and sequence of the questions.
Closed-end and open-end questions can be used. Closed-end questions provide answers easier to interpret, but narrow respondents’ answers.
The questionnaire should be simple, use unbiased wording and be pretested before large-scale use. The lead questions creates interest, difficult questions are placed at the end to prohibit anger, the questions should follow a logical order.
Sampling unit – who is to be surveyed? (target population)
Sample size – how many people should be surveyed?
Sampling procedure – how should the respondents be chosen?
Representative samples require a probability sample. Non-probability samples are less costly.
Marketing researchers can choose between mail, telephone, personal or on-line interviews.
This phase is the most expensive and source of problems: respondents are not at home, refuse to cooperate, give biased or dishonest answers. Some interviewers might be biased or dishonest. Thanks to computers and telecommunication data collection methods are improving.
Extract results from the collected data via tabulating and developing frequency distributions.
The researcher presents the findings to the relevant parties.