Marketing Research

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Marketing Research

What is Marketing Research? Meaning

Marketing Research (MR) is the process or set of processes that links the producers, customers, and end users to the marketer through information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. MR specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.

MR is the systematic gathering, recording, and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data about issues relating to marketing products and services. The term is commonly interchanged with "market research" even if perhaps be a slight distinction could be made between the 2 terms in which "marketing research" is a broader term, because it can include more elements than just the market.

Purpose of Marketing Research. Goals

MR plays a vital role in marketing decision-making and marketing planning by providing appropriate, relevant information. It gives the necessary input a marketing manager requires to make informed decisions about product design, packaging, pricing, promotions, distribution, logistics, etc.

How to Conduct Marketing Research? Steps

Below a structured approach to perform MR. It starts with the information need and ends with an actionable report or presentation or both. In between these 2 points, there are several steps or elements to ensure the MR project achieves its purpose. The marketing research process involves the following elements / steps:

  • INFORMATION NEED: This is the initiation step, there is usually a realization amongst the marketing managers, who are responsible for making a decision, that they would need some more information on the customers or dealers or users. The cost of obtaining the required information needs to be considered beforehand. Also, the cost of not having the information must be taken into consideration. The risk involved in taking the marketing decision without adequate information must also be weighted. Though it is not easy to estimate the risk, it is generally good to do MR if one has the time and money, rather than shoot blindly. Though success is not guaranteed as it depends on a lot of factors and information is just one of these factors.
  • RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: The next step in the process is to define a research objective in terms of the information needed. A research objective can be specified broadly or narrowly. One common mistake that a marketer makes is setting multiple (too much) objectives for a single research project. The result is a mass of data which is not needed at that time. Try to focus and have clearly stated objectives. About four to five objectives are in many cases adequate.
  • RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The research methodology largely depends on the target population and how easy or difficult it is to access it. The second factor that influences the research method is the importance of the decisions that will be taken based on the research. In other words, the required accuracy of the research depends on the criticality of the decision. The major components of the research methodology are:
    • RESEARCH METHOD: primary or secondary (see below under data collection method)
    • SAMPLING PLAN: This is the answer to the statement of what can be the composition and the size of the sample. We must make the sample representative of the population. One must use a probabilistic sampling technique that is not biased. The population can be divided into different strata based on different parameters such as users/non-users, age, income, etc. and make sure that each segment is adequately represented in the final sample.
    • QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN (if applicable)
    • FIELD WORK PLAN: Once the researcher decides the sampling centres (cities, towns, etc.) and the sample size for each, the further step would be: Who and When. In the fieldwork, one assumes that the research is done going to the 'field,' i.e., homes, shops, offices, etc. Before going to the field, the individuals responsible for collecting the data must be aware of what is to be collected and the format of recording. The researchers must convey the idea of the research to the people responsible for collecting data using the briefing, followed by a debriefing (after data collection) to understand the response of the stakeholders.
    • ANALYSIS PLAN: The analysis depends on the answers to a given question. It is important to have an analysis plan beforehand i.e., before going to the field with a questionnaire. In some cases, special statistical tests can be performed e.g., Multidimensional scaling (MDS), ANOVA, Correlation, Regression, Discriminant Analysis, Factor Analysis, Cluster Analysis, etc. But the researchers must be aware of the basic techniques for analysis in a MR study, these are:
      • Simple Tabulation
      • Cross Tabulation
    • DATA COLLECTION METHOD. As said earlier, every research starts with some information need. At times, the information required can be collected entirely from published sources or internal records. This is called secondary research. Also, researchers can collect information from primary sources - customers, users, dealers, buyers, or some other respondents. Primary research can be done using different methods:
      • Survey using a questionnaire
      • Observation
      • Experimentation
      • Qualitative techniques
      • Other specialized techniques (consumer panel, focus group, retail audit, TV audience measurement etc.)
  • BUDGET AND COST ESTIMATION: There are three basic parameters which can be considered for estimating the budget of the study:
    • Sample size
    • The difficulty in finding the sampling units and their geographical dispersion
    • Who will do the fieldwork
  • PRESENTATION, REPORT: After the analysis is completed, the next step would be having a presentation with the sponsor of the study. This includes a presentation of all the major tabulations, cross-tabulations, and other results. It must include the final recommendations and the major findings. A final report is to be made. Based upon the presentation and final report, the sponsor will take appropriate marketing actions.

Nargundkar, R. (2017), "Marketing Research: Text and Cases," McGraw Hill Education, Third Edition, pp.19-35
Kotler, P. & Keller, K.L. (2016), "Marketing Management", p. 84

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