Definition of Marketing Research
Marketing research is a key to the evolution of successful marketing strategies and programmes. It is an important tool to study buyer behavior, changes in consumer lifestyles and consumption patterns, brand loyalty and forecast market changes. Research is also used to study competition and analyze the competitor product’s positioning and how to gain competitive advantage. Recently, marketing research is being used to help create and enhance brand equity.
According to Philip Kotler, Marketing research is systematic problem analysis, model building and fact finding for the purposes of important decision making and control in the marketing of goods and services.
The important decision making related to market strategy and other tasks related to marketing depends on findings or marketing research. Marketing research process reduces the chances of errors, miss conceptions and uncertainty from decision making process. It is therefore very important to conduct marketing research to identify any changes in market environment, and understand customers and market. It means that this is the process of strategically importance.
Importance of Marketing Research
Marketing research is a systematic collection and analysis of data about market and the important quality of market. Therefore, Market research is an extremely part of any business that wants to offer products or service that are focused and well targeted. It also affects the profit of a business and makes the best return on marketing investment. For example, a product’s price elasticity research can help you to find out the true or correct information that impact of an increased price on the sales and the profits of a product. This special importance give on profitability also helps the company’s focus to shift from widen the sales to increase the profits of a company and helps the company to survive longer.
Research is about finding and gathers the information to learn about something that is not fully known. Marketing research is allows company to discover the facts whether customers or consumers is satisfy with it. And it also provides crucial information that may be affecting the business. In addition, Market research will also minimize the risk as it can help to shape a new product or service, and identifying what is needed and ensure that the development of a product is high level focused towards needs and wants.
Furthermore, market research also helps to identify opportunities. For example, if there is a plan to operate a new service and would like to have enough information or experience of the people’s attitudes then the market research can give not only evaluating new idea but also identify the areas where a marketing needs to develop and improve. To survive in competition of markets is not easily especially markets has been throughout the world. Marketing research helps to find out the true or correct information and understand the competitor such as their identity, the marketing network, what is customer focus on and the range of level operations. Other than that, with market research can also helps to understand the consumer needs that have not been met. Target markets is also one of the important points that marketers should take notes with, from marketing research it helps to decide the target markets and provide customer information in terms of their location, age, gender and buying behavior.
Besides that, marketing research helps to create benchmarks and prepare the plans carefully and take necessary measures and give opinion of the amount, value or quality for its performance. Moreover, marketing research is system that has been give devise more effective strategies. The most useful of marketing research is help to identify the potential problems and give ample time to discover the facts and to calculate an effective solution.
Marketing Research Process
There are seven steps in marketing research process: define the research problem, determine the research design, choose the method for collecting primary data, design the sample, collect the data, analyze and interpret the data, prepare the research report. Though those steps, marketers will make conversant decisions or reduce the risk of their decisions.
1. PROBLEM DEFINITION
This is the starting point in the marketing research exercise. Invariably, in any enterprise, there are several marketing issues that may require examination, and invariably every decision maker perceives his information need as being the most important. In problem definition it is important to be specific, avoiding ambiguities and generalities. Care should also be taken, not to define problems in too narrow a field as that may distract the researcher’s perspective. This may even affect creativity in the research.
2. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
Once the problem is defined, the next logical step is to state what the researcher wants to achieve. This statement is called objectives. To be meaningful and help focus the researcher’s attention, these objectives should be specific, attainable & measurable. The purpose of these objectives is to act as a guide to the researcher and help him in maintaining a focus all through the research.
3. RESEARCH DESIGN
The third stage in the marketing research process is deciding on the research design. There are three types of research designs, namely:
- Exploratory: This kind of research is conducted when the researcher does not know how & why a certain phenomenon occurs, for example, how does the consumer evaluate the quality of a bank or a hotel or an airline? Since the prime goal of an exploratory research is to know the unknown, this research is unstructured. Focus groups, interviewing key customer groups, experts and even search for printed or published information are some common techniques.
- Descriptive: This research is carried out to describe a phenomenon or market characteristics. For example, a study to understand buyer behavior & describe characteristics of the target market is a descriptive research. Continuing the above example of service quality, a research done on how consumers evaluate the quality of competing service institutions can be considered as an example of descriptive research.
- Causative: This kind of research is done to establish a cause and effect relationship, for example the influence of income & lifestyle on purchase decision. Here the researcher may like to see the effect of rising income & changing lifestyle on consumption of select products.
4. SOURCES OF DATA
Once the research design has been decided upon, the next stage is that of selecting the sources of data. Essentially there are two sources of data or information- secondary & primary
- Secondary data: This refers to the information that has been collected earlier by someone else. Often this includes printed or published reports, news items, industry or trade statistics etc. this also includes internal documents like invoices, sales reports, payment history of customers etc. these are important to the researcher as they provide an insight to the problem. Often the preliminary investigation is restricted to secondary data.
- Primary data: To overcome the limitations of incompatibility, obsolescence and bias, the researcher turns to the primary data. This is also resorted to when the secondary data is incomplete. Primary sources refer to data collected directly from the market place- customers, traders & suppliers often are the major sources. They are often reliable data sources and help in overcoming limitations of secondary data. The problem in primary data is its cost, both In terms of money & time, and often a researcher bias also creeps in.
5. DATA COLLECTION
The researcher is now ready to take the plunge. But still he or she needs to be clear about the following.
Procedure for data collection.
Data can be collected through any or combination of the following techniques.
- Observation: This technique involves observing how a customer behaves in the shopping area, how he or she dresses up & what does the customer say when he or she sees the product.
- Experimentation: This is a technique that involves experimenting new product ideas, advertising copies & campaigns, sales promotion ideas & even pricing & distribution strategies with the target customer group. These experiments can be conducted in an uncontrolled environment or in a controlled & simulated market environment.
Tools for data collection
The researcher has to decide on the appropriate tool for data collection. These tools are:-
- Questionnaire — used for the survey method
- Interview schedule — used mainly for exploratory research
- Association test — primarily used in qualitative research, also called as TAT (Thematic Apperception Test)
6. DATA ANALYSIS
The next stage is that of data analysis .It is important to understand raw data has no usage in marketing research .hence appropriate analytical tools must be used. The most elementary is the arithmetic analysis using percentile and ratios. Statistical analysis like mean, median, mode, percentages, standard deviation and coefficient of correlations should be used wherever applicable
7. REPORT & PRESENTATION
The last stage is that of writing out a report and making a presentation to the Decision —maker. It is important that the report has summary, called the executive summary, giving a bird’s-eye view of the research. This is because most senior managers have little time for going through the entire report in depth. The executive summary can direct the reader’s attention to specific issues by turning to the relevant sections in the report and should not exceed thousand words.
The report should be structured and pages chronologically numbered generally, the structure of a good repot is somewhat like the following:
- Introduction to the problem
- Marketing research finding or survey findings
- Interpretation of research finding
- Policy implications