Marketing Research Process and Types of Marketing Research Definition: A set of defined stages through which marketing information is collected. Marketing Research Process often follows a general pattern which includes 6 stages: Defining the research objectives Planning a research design Planning a sample Collecting the data Analyzing the data Formulating the conclusions and preparing the report Research objectives set the purpose and focus of your research with the fundamental questions that will be addressed. Defining your research objectives means defining what do I need to investigate and how am I going to do it? Research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting research. Considerations for defining the research objectives: Defining the managerial decision situation: meaning that careful attention to the problem definition allows the researcher to set the proper research objectives. The researcher needs to be part of planning and decision making in order to understand perfectly the problem concerning the research. Exploratory Research: It helps identify the decisions that need to be made. It can progressively narrow the scope of the research topic and help transform ambiguous problems into well-defined ones that yield specific research objectives. After such exploration the researcher should know exactly which data to collect during the formal phases of the project and how to conduct the project. Examples of exploratory research techniques: Secondary (historical) data, previous research, experience survey and case studies. Previous Research: Researchers should first investigate previous research to see whether or not others may have addressed the same research problems previously. Stating Research Objectives: After identifying and clarifying the problem, with or without exploratory research, the researcher must formally state the research objectives. The research objectives try to directly address the decision statement or statements, as the case may be. What is theory: Theory plays a role in determining the appropriate research objectives. A formal, logical explanation of some events that includes predictions of how things relate to one another. What is a hypothesis: Hypothesis is a formal statement explaining some outcome. A hypothesis is a guess. Main objectives of the research: Review of the scientific knowledge on health labeling. An evaluation of existing warnings on tobacco packages. Review of the scientific evidence on the health effects of tobacco. Development of possible future warning messages. Decision statement: Should we invest in a training program to reduce employee role conflict among our employees. Research Objectives: Determine how much role conflict influences employee job satisfaction. Hypotheses: Role conflict is related positively to job satisfaction. A research design is a master plan that specifies the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information. It provides a framework or plan of action for the research. Selection of the basic research method: Survey (interview or questionnaire), experiment (laboratory or field), secondary data and observation. The appropriate method chosen depends on: Objectives of study Available data sources Urgency of decision Cost of obtaining data Survey: The most common method of generating primary data. It is a research technique in which a sample is interviewed in some form or the behavior of the respondents is observed and described in some way. Research investigators may choose to contact respondents by telephone or mail, on the internet or in person. It is argued that there is no single best research design. The ability to select the most appropriate research design develops with experience. Inexperienced researchers often believe that a survey methodology is the best design but a different research method can offer the same results with a much lower cost. If you take your first bite of a steak and conclude that the entire steak needs salt to taste good, you have just conducted a sample. Sampling involves any procedure that draws conclusions based in measurement of a portion of the population. In the steak analogy, the first bite is the sample and the entire steak is the population. If certain statistical procedures are followed, the result of a good sample should have the same characteristics as the population as a whole. Of course, when errors are made, samples do not give reliable estimates of the population. Questions to ask for the sample: “Who is to be sampled?” The answer to this is the target population. “How big should the sample be?” Even though a larger sample is more precise than a small one, a proper sample even small one, can give a reliable measure of the whole. “How to select the sampling units”. Simple random sampling may be the best known type. Data gathering is the process of gathering of collecting information. Surveys require direct participation by research respondents by filling questionnaires or interacting with an interviewer. These are obtrusive methods. Unobtrusive methods are methods in which research respondents do not have to be disturbed for data to be gathered (like observing). After the fieldwork has been completed, the data must be converted into a format that will answer the marketing manager’s question. This is part of the data processing and analyzing stage. This stage begins with editing and coding the data. Editing involves checking the data collection forms for mistakes, legibility etc. The editing process corrects problems before the data are transferred to the computer. Coding means interpreting, categorizing, recording and transferring the data to the data storage media. The last part of step five is data analysis which is the application of reasoning to understand the data that have been gathered. In its simplest form, analysis may involve determining consistent patterns and summarizing the relevant details revealed in the investigation. This is the final stage of the research process, but it is far from the least important. This stage consists of interpreting the research results, describing the implications, and drawing the appropriate conclusions for managerial decisions. These conclusions should fulfill the deliverables promised in the research proposal. It’s also important that the researcher consider the varying abilities of people to understand the research results. Ad-hoc Market Research Ad-hoc research studies focus on specific Marketing problems. They collect data at one point in time from one sample of respondents. Good examples of ad-hoc studies include: • Product usage survey • New product concept tests (where consumers are asked to trial new brands, product prototypes etc) • Advertising development (how does the sample of consumers respond to a specific advertising campaign? Most TV adverts are researched in this way) • Corporate image surveys (often quite enlightening) • Customer satisfaction surveys (these can often turn into continuous research) Continuous Research Continuous studies interview the same sample of people, repeatedly. The major types of continuous research are: Consumer panels Consumer panels are formed by recruiting large numbers of households who provide information on their buying over time. Retail Audits By gaining the cooperation of retail outlets, sales of brands can be measured (using bar coded sales data) to track changes in brand loyalty, market share and effectiveness of different retail formats. Television Viewership / Radio Listening Panels These panels aim to measure Viewer ship or listening minute by minute.