Marketing research is the process of gathering and evaluating information that sheds light on market opportunities and provides data for assessing marketing strategy. Research can reveal everything from consumer attitudes and competitive intelligence to the interaction between specific product dimensions, price points, and the best distribution channels. With data in hand, marketers can
Evaluate marketing scenarios and assumptions
Monitor performance in market segments and target markets
Assess competitive threats
Synthesize information for ongoing business decision making
Go to market with relevant products and campaigns
Research helps decision makers predict customer response and gauge potential return on investment. Fine-tune your marketing research by asking the right questions and you will make effective use of your marketing time and dollars. Start by thinking about what information, resources, and evidence will increase your chances for success. Then collect information and impressions from people who think and behave like those you would expect to purchase your products (i.e., your target market). Use that data to guide your strategy.
And, plan to reassess perceptions along the way. This chapter will show you how to do that.
If the prospect of marketing research scares you, ask yourself: why? My guess is that you have just ventured into unfamiliar terrain. To help you overcome your fear of marketing research, you need to take a few simple steps and locate information you dont have yet. First, youll need to identify potential resources, then gather information, and develop a plan to meet your needs. By breaking down your research needs into smaller, successive steps, you can then execute your project in stages until you achieve your research objective. How do you learn what you need to know? How do you even know what you dont know? Ask lots of questions. Asking even five other people how they would handle a similar problem will help you shape your answer. As you move forward, step by step, you will gain the knowledge and confidence needed to choose a wise course of action.
Marketing research concentrates on collecting and understanding certain types of data:
Demographic information about specific consumer groups
Observations on industry segments and trends
Factors influencing buying behavior
It can take several forms. Descriptive research provides a picture of what is happening in a particular market, such as who is buying what, where they are buying it, and from whom. Primarily a search-and-gather exercise, exploratory research is inquiry based and helps researchers and companies learn about and understand issues they know little about by collecting various types of information about a topic or market phenomena. Typically informal in scope, exploratory research questions and answers serve as the foundation for establishing a more structured research design.
Causal research is a research approach that assesses the impact of one variable or multiple variables on a specific outcome.
Research designs can be qualitative or quantitative.
Qualitative research is largely anecdotal, helping companies assess consumers feelings and perceptions through probing questions. While qualitative research typically deals with impressions, quantitative research deals with specific numbers. But even qualitative responses can be categorized, tabulated, and quantified.
Once you decide on an overall research approach, you need to consider what kind of measurements will give you the answers you need. Quantitative research is designed to provide specific measurements based on data gathered from single or multiple samples.
Quantitative researchers tabulate data, such as recording the results of a telephone survey, counting traffic in a store, comparing the numbers of cars sold on weekends to the numbers sold on weekdays, or comparing the prices of hothouse flowers to the prices of field-grown ones.