University of Lethbridge Faculty of Management Management 3220Y

University of Lethbridge
Faculty of Management
Management 3220Y
Marketing Research
Project Guidelines
The primary objective of this project is to gain experience using the basic methods of
market research by applying them to a real-life business management decision situation.
A secondary objective is to gain experience working in teams.
Project description
Students will work in teams of four to complete a market research project for a local business
or organization. Teams will be formed the second week of class and some time will be given
in class to work on the project. The project involves contacting a local business or
organization and defining the research problem, designing the project, collecting primary and
secondary data, analyzing the data, and writing a comprehensive research report. Given that
the information provided both by the business and generated through the report should
remain confidential, a presentation to the class is not required.
Because this project constitutes 50% of the grade for this course, and because it is not the sort
of project that can be left until the last two weeks of the semester, it must be completed in 3
Phase One: Research Objectives and Design
Weight: 15% of final grade
Date due: October 7
Phase one is perhaps the most crucial as it will guide the rest of the research project. It
has been said, “a problem well defined is half-solved,” so in this phase you must define
the problem clearly and state the objectives precisely. Defining the problem can be one of
the most difficult parts of the research. An incorrectly defined problem can lead to
incorrect research objectives and consequently a poor decision. Not only is it important
for the right problem to be identified, but the definition should be specific. Many people
define symptoms of the problem as the problem (for example, declining sales) instead of
the defining the real problem (for example, declining quality).
This phase involves contacting a local business or organization to understand the nature
and context of the business problem and to agree with the decision maker on what is to be
done, who is to be researched, and whether there are any particular people to be included
or excluded. The contact person will need to provide relevant background information on
the organization, the problem, and also the company's knowledge and understanding of
the market at the moment.
In this phase you must also specify the information needed to solve the problem and the
methods and procedures for acquiring that information, i.e. the research design. Research
designs may be identified as exploratory, descriptive and causal. Exploratory research is
used to gain ideas and insights to further define the problem and suggest hypotheses. It is
particularly helpful in breaking broad, vague problem statements into smaller, more
precise problem statements. Typically, it involves colleting secondary data, interviewing
experts, pilot surveys, and qualitative research such as focus groups, interviews and
observation. Descriptive research, in contrast, is concerned with describing the
characteristics of certain groups, to estimate the proportion of people who behave in a
certain way, or to make predictions. Usually conducted after exploratory research it is
marked by well-formulated hypotheses, and usually involves a pre-planned structured
design and the collection of data through surveys. Descriptive information is often useful
for predictive purposes, but the causes (reasons why) of what is being predicted improves
understanding. Causal research tests relationships of causal factors to the effects
predicted. “Does X cause Y?” For example, does a lower price cause an increase in
sales? Exploratory research often involves experiments, and is not a requirement for this
Completion of phase One involves writing a short (maximum 7 pages) research proposal.
This should provide some background on the organization, the management decision it
faces, a statement of research objectives giving a clear idea of the single overall
objective, a review of relevant literature, a discussion of what you propose to do, and the
information needed to solve the problem. A time line with deadlines lines for both the
proposal and delivery of the results is also needed.
Phase Two: Data Collection
Weight: 10% of final grade
Date Due: November 18th
Phase two involves developing a survey questionnaire and sampling plan. This section should
explain the sample, instruments, and procedures used and the data collected. This section
should be 5-7 pages long. It must also include a revision of the phase one proposal based on
feedback received and any changes in the plan that may have occurred.
Phase Three: Analysis and Report
Weight: 25% of final grade
Date Due: December 4th.
The data must then be collected, processed, analyzed, and interpreted. Phase three is a
comprehensive report based on the sum of the research and analysis. This section should be
10-15 pages long. The total project should not exceed 30 pages double-spaced, excluding any
appendices (e.g. copies of questionnaires used, computer output etc.). Again, it must include
revisions based on feedback of phases one and two (don’t forget to change the future tense to
the past tense).
The Report
Instead of just summarizing the results, wherever appropriate conclusions should be
drawn and recommendations that management can act upon should be made. The report
for management should emphasize the strategic aspects of the research project rather than
the operating details. The company needs to sign-off on the final report, which should
take the following format:
Table of Contents
Executive Summary
 Define the Problem concisely
 Describe approach briefly
 Major findings
 Conclusions
 Recommendations
Problem definition
 Background to the problem
 Secondary data summarized
 Statement of the problem
Approach to the problem
 Broad approach taken to the problem
 Theoretical foundations
 Analytical models
 Research questions and hypotheses
Research design
 Information needs
 Details of how the research was conducted
 Data collection from secondary sources
 Data collection from primary sources
 Scaling techniques
 Questionnaire development and pre-testing
 Sampling techniques
Data analysis
 Methods used
 Presented at aggregate level
 Also at market segment, geographic level etc.
 Geared to problem
 And to information needs
 Presented in tables and graphs
 Main findings discussed in text
Limitations and Caveats
 Due to time, budget etc.
 Limitations due to error types (e.g. sampling non-sampling)
How far can results be taken
Conclusions and Recommendations
 In light of problem being addressed
 Based on the results and conclusions the researcher may make recommendations
to the decision makers.
 Questionnaires
 Statistical output
Tips and Expectations
 Businesses or organizations that work best for this project tend to be small
business-to-consumer enterprises rather than those involved in business to
 It is easier too if the target market is well defined and readily accessible.
 You (as well as the instructor) might be asked to sign a non-disclosure.
 You might be asked to give a presentation to the company or organization.
 The decision maker should expect to meet with you at least three times. The first
time will be to explore and understand the management decision that needs to be
made. The second time will be to discuss your plan of action, and third time to
present the report.