Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for Managing Customer Relationships.
Marketing Research is a discipline within Marketing that provides market intelligence feedback and enables decision makers with the correct data to make a decision.
Marketing Research Activities Include:
Defining the Problem
Defining the Research Process
Leverage Secondary Data and Databases
Surveys / Questionnaire
Determine Statistical Significance of Results
Output to Decision Makers
Defining the Problem
Defining the problem correctly is the most important aspect of Marketing Research. If the wrong problem is articulated then all the subsequent efforts will be focused in the wrong direction resulting in time and likely money wasted.
It is important to determine why the information is important or needed. If you’re doing Marketing Research for yourself be sure to clarify this. If it is for others then be sure that you have specific detail and have confirmed this multiple times.
Determine what decisions you will make with the information gained and prioritize your questions and rephrase them multiple times to ensure that only the central questions are in focus. Work through detailed examples to help clarify the problem. Create sample data and determine if that will help with your decision making process. If questions are not clear cut then you should doubt that the real need is understood.
If this Marketing Research is done in the context of a business then speaking to multiple managers may be required or reading multiple reports.
Exploratory Research is used to define the problem.
Exploratory research can take the form of a pilot study, experience surveys, secondary data analysis, case studies, and focus groups.
Pilot Studies have a limited number of respondents and have less rigorous sampling techniques.
Experience Surveys are a list of informal questions that are discussed with an experienced person within a market or an organization.
Secondary Data is data that is gather for some other purpose than the one at hand. The internet is used for gathering secondary data from countless information sources.
Case Studies is the process of reviewing information from a few other situations that are similar to the present research problem.
Focus Groups are in-depth discussions usually consisting of 8 to 12 participants which are led by a moderator and are generally limited to one participant, concept, or idea.
When do you know when Exploratory Research is complete?
Exploratory research is completed when you have a defined set of questions or have a number of potential ideas about the root cause to a specific problem as well as their significance.
Don’t focus on symptoms to a problem (known as the iceberg principle). A symptom occurs because of the existence of something else. For example common problems that management focuses on are poor sales, declining profits, and increased customer complaints. However, these issues are all symptomatic of a larger problem. Ensure that proper root cause analysis is done at multiple levels to the true problem is defined.
Once you have defined the Management Problem then translate that into a Market Research Problem. A Marketing Research problem specifies what information is needed to solve the problem and how that information can be obtained efficiently and effectively. The Marketing Research objective then is a goal statement defining the specific information needed to solve the marketing research problem.
In contrast to the Marketing Research Problem the Management Decision Problem is action oriented and is broader in scope.
Research findings must be actionable and provide decision making information. Unless research is exploratory it should lead to a decision.
State the research objective as a well formulated objective serves as a roadmap to the research project. Objectives should be stated in terms of the precise information necessary to address the marketing research problem / opportunity.
Research objectives are often defined as hypotheses. A hypothesis is a conjectural statement about a relationship between two or more variables that can be tested with empirical data and it is considered to be plausible given the available data.
Marketing Research Process
First as mentioned above we Identify the problem / opportunity and stating the Marketing Research Objective
Next we create the research design; a plan for addressing the research objectives or hypothesis. There is no best design but rather tradeoffs between an array of options.
A typical process could include:
- Identify problem and define research objectives statement
- Create research design
- Choose research method
- Select sampling procedure
- Collect data
- Analyze data
- Write and present report
- Follow up
The first choice is to determine if the research will be descriptive or causal.
Descriptive Studies are conducted to answer who what when where and how questions.
A variable is simply a symbol or concept that can assume any one of a set of values. A descriptive study can tell us whether two or more variables are associated.
Casual Studies are used to determine where the value of one variable causes or determines the value of another variable in an attempt to establish a link between them.