Marketing research is the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of information for guiding marketing decisions.
A firm cannot implement the marketing concept without information about customer needs.
Are customer’s lifestyles or preferences changing?
Do some market segments still need to be reached?
Who are the competitors?
What product, price, distribution system, and promotional activities would enable satisfying exchanges to take place with people in the target market?
To answer such critical questions, marketers must continually look at buying trends, talk to customers, and establish ways to receive feedback. Much of this communication with consumers takes place through marketing research. Marketing research is the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of information relating to the marketing of goods and services.
Need for Marketing Research:
Firms conducted research is response to problems. Such as decreasing profits, failure to reach sales quotas, or customers lost to a competitor. But today many firms realize that research should be ongoing. Successful firms, regardless of size, continually talk to customers and study the market. Marketing research can be proactive to prevent “breakdowns” or reactive to respond to a problem and try to fix it. Unfortunately marketing research conducted after serious problems emerge may be too late. Forward looking companies take a proactive stand to help keep ahead of the competition.
The Marketing Research Process:
The marketing research process consists of six steps;
- Problem definition
- Research design
- Data collection
- Data analysis
Forming the research question (definition):
Marketing research must first define what they want to find out the research question. A research study should address a specific topic or problem rather than several different issues at once. Researcher need to clearly state their purpose and their plan for using the information they gather.
After defining the research question, marketers formulate a plan for collecting information essential to the study. Depending in the type and amount of information already available, the researcher will choose one of several alternative designs.
If little is known about the question being investigated, marketers engage in exploratory research. They may look at company records and government or industry publications or talk to knowledgeable people inside or outside their organization. Focus group interviews, in which a researcher informally discusses an idea or issue with a small group of employees, consumers, or others, can provide helpful insights.
Sometimes organizations conduct experimental research to determine whether one event, circumstance, or situation causes another. Marketers often want to know the age, sex, education, income, lifestyle, buying habit of consumers. To obtain such information, they conduct descriptive research.
After settling on a research design, marketers accumulate the information that will answer the research question. Researcher sometimes relies on secondary data- published information available inside the firm or from government, industry or other sources.
Often secondary data are unavailable. In such cases, marketers obtain primary data information collected for the first time and specific to the study. The researcher use experiments, observation, or surveys to collect primary data.
Researchers conduct experiments either in a controlled, isolated setting or in actual market place settings such as a store. Observation involves watching a situation and recording relevant facts. A market may observe supermarket shoppers and record the purchases made. Through surveys, researchers question respondents to obtain needed information. Mail, telephone, and in-person surveys are becoming more and more common.
To determine what all the information means, researcher analyze the data they collect. Usually they enter data into a computer and run special programs to find the frequency of responses and how different items of information are related. Businesses sometimes hire research consulting firms to conduct the data analysis.
Interpretation and Conclusions:
A stack of data isn’t worth much unless it provides a workable answer to the research question. In the final research step, marketers determine what the information means and draw conclusions. Business owners and managers concern themselves most with this part of the study; they use the interpretations and conclusions as the yardstick for measuring the value of the research. Firms of all types and sizes use research to tackle marketing challenges or problems. Some have their own marketing research departments, while others use outside consultants or research firms from time to time.