Studies involving a small number of individuals, such as focus groups or in-depth one-to-one interviews. The primary tool in qualitative research is the focus group, including online focus groups/ teleconferences. One-on-one interviews used to delve more deeply into the topic.
Studies involving ‘a lot’ of people. Uses statistical average techniques such as mean ratings, and statistical tools such as sampling error and standard error to analyse data. There is no stated number of people who must be interviewed to make a study quantitative, but samples of 100 or more are usually considered quantitative.
Questions that may need to be answered:
What are the major variables affecting my sales, and how important is each one?
What are the best variables for segmenting my market, and how many segments exist?
What are the best predictors of which consumers are likely to buy my brand versus competitor’s brand?
If I raised my price by X% and increased advertising expenditures by Y%, what would happen to sales?
Information must be distributed to the right managers at the right time.
Centralised marketing information systems (MIS) often provide regular performance reports, intelligence updates, and study reports to managers.
Developments in technology have caused a revolution in information distribution.
Increased use of Decision Support Systems
Figure 4.2 The Marketing Research Process
1. Defining the Problem and the Research Objectives
This involves close cooperation between marketing managers and researchers.
Defining the problem can be difficult as the manager may know there is a problem without knowing or understanding the cause.
Three types of MR objectives arising from problem definition:
Exploratory: gather preliminary info to better define the problem and suggest answers
Descriptive: better definition of the problem by describing the actual situation
Causal: identify cause and likely effect
Often the most difficult step in research process
__________ data is the data that was gathered for another purpose and already exists.
2. Developing the Research Plan
The second step is to determine what information is needed; develop a plan for gathering the info efficiently; and producing the research design.
Secondary data is research date that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose e.g.
internal sources; government publications; business periodicals and books; purchase of commercial data.
Primary data consist of information collected for the specific research purpose at hand.
Planning Primary Data Collection
Secondary data will not usually satisfy all of a firm’s research needs, so primary data has to be collected.
Good decisions require good data, and great care must be taken to ensure the primary data collected provide marketing decision makers with relevant; accurate; current; and unbiased information.
The first step in the marketing research process is the:
development of the research plan
survey of stakeholders to determine if problems exist
decision regarding the research tools and target group
collection of the available sources for needed information
definition of the problem and research objectives
People meters (TV audiences)
Single-source data systems
Structured (set questions) or Unstructured
Use of Direct or Indirect questions
Experimental research (cause and effect)
has many advantages.
can be used to collect large amounts of information at lower cost
however, doesn’t have the same level of flexibility, and rate of response is often very low.
Online survey methods
May involve observation, experiments, focus groups or surveys using email.
Online survey methods offer speed.
Many people dislike unsolicited emails which may be dismissed as ‘spam’.
Privacy of information may concern respondents, due to fear of computer worms and viruses.
Cost of developing the Software can be high.
Sampling Plans (1)
A sample is a subset of the population that has been selected to represent the population as a whole.
A sample in which every element in the population has a
known statistical chance of being selected
Any sample in which little/no attempt has been made to reach a representative cross-section of the particular population
Simple Random – known and equal chance
Stratified Random – within a specific group
Cluster – a selection of groups
Convenience – the easiest approach
Judgement – prior experience of researcher
Quota – a set number of respondents
Sampling Plans (2)
Questionnaire - most popular method
Closed-end questions (pre-set answers)
Open-end questions (answer in own words)
Galvanometer - emotional reaction
Tachistoscope - level of recall
Eye cameras - eye movement/ reaction
To test the effects of different prices, McDonald's introduced a new sandwich at one price in one city and at a different price in another city using:
Presenting the Research Plan
Written proposal summarising the following:
The management problems addressed.
Information to be obtained.
Sources of secondary data.
Methods for collecting primary data.
How results will help in the decision making.
Cost of the research.
3. Implementing Research Plan
Putting the plan into action involves collecting, processing and analysing the information.
Data collection may be carried out by the firm’s own MR staff, or by an outside agency.
Data collection stage is usually the most expensive, and often the most prone to error.
Collected data are processed by machine, or checked and coded manually for computer analysis.
Software packages can be used to compute averages, and test how well the data fits the hypothesised model.
4. Interpreting and Reporting the Findings
Interpretation should not be left only to the researchers, the marketing manager may know more about the problem and the decisions that need to be made.
Interpretation is very important as even the best designed research is meaningless if incorrect interpretations are blindly accepted.
Managers must also guard against biased interpretations, and not reject those that are not exactly what they had expected.
MR in Small Business and Non-Profit Organisations
Managers often think that marketing research can be undertaken only by large companies with big research budgets. But many MR techniques can also be used by smaller organisations in a less formal manner and at little or no expense.
Informal surveys using small convenience samples .
Meaningful marketing information can be obtained simply by observing what is happening.
Managers can conduct their own simple experiments.
Small organisations can obtain most of the secondary data available to large businesses.
International Marketing Research
International marketing research follows the same steps as domestic research.
International markets will generally present more problems because they often vary greatly in areas such as, economic development; cultures and customs; and buying patterns.
Good secondary data is often more difficult to obtain in these situations.
Public Policy and Ethics in Marketing Research
When properly used, marketing research benefits both the sponsoring company and its customers. It helps the company to make better marketing decisions, which in turn results in products and services that meet the needs of consumer more effectively. However, when misused, marketing research can also abuse and annoy customers e.g.
Intrusions on consumer privacy.
Misuse of research findings (used selectively).
In many countries codes of practice outline researchers’ responsibilities to the general public.