Problem Definition and The Research Process

Problem Definition and The
Research Process
Critical Importance of Correctly
Defining the Problem
Recognize the problem or opportunity
Find out why the information is being sought
Understand the decision-making environment (the industry, company, products, and target market)
Use the symptoms to help clarify the problem
Translate the management problem into a marketing research problem
Determine whether the information already exists
Determine whether the question really can be answered
State the research objectives
Recognize the
• Changes occur in the firm’s external environment:
– Should we change the existing marketing mix?
– If so, How?
• Marketing research may be used to evaluate the
products and services, promotion, distribution, and
pricing alternatives.
• In addition it may be used to find and evaluate new
opportunities, in the process called “opportunity
Example of Opportunity
• In 1990, there have been over 30 million babies born in the
United States. They represent the largest generation since
baby boomers.
• Because of that increase in single-parent and dual earner
households, kids are making shopping decisions once left to
• With their allowance, earnings, and gifts, children 14 and
under will spend an estimated $20 billion a year, and they will
influence another $200 billion in purchases.
Example of Opportunity
• These statistics represent an opportunity.
• Walt Disney, for example, launched a 24-hour kids’
radio network based on its marketing research.
• General Motors did an analysis on backseat
consumers that is children between 5-15 years. GM
purchased the inside cover of Sports Illustrated for
Kids (a mag. targeted to boys from 8-14 years) for the
ad on the Chevy Venture minivan.
Recognize Problem
• Managers may want to know:
– Why are we losing marketing share?
– What should we do about our competitor
lowering its prices by 10 percent?
• In this instances, marketing researchers can
help managers solve problems
Find Out Why the Information Is
Being Sought
• Managers may not have a clear idea of what they
want, therefore marketing researchers often find the
following helpful:
– Discuss what the info. will be used for and what decisions
might be made as a result of the research.
– Try to get the client/manager to prioritize their questions.
– Create sample data and ask if such a data would help
answer the questions. Simulate the decision process.
Understand the Decision-Making
• The better the marketing researcher understands the
decision-making environment, including the industry,
the firm, its products or services, and the target
market, the more likely it is that the problem will be
defined correctly.
• This step may be referred to as conducting a
situation analysis. That is studying the decisionmaking environment within which the marketing
research will take place.
Understand the Decision-Making
• Sometimes informed discussions with managers and
suppliers and on-site visits aren’t enough.
• Exploratory research which is a preliminary research
may be conducted to obtain greater understanding
of a concept, to clarify the exact nature of the
problem to be solved, or to identify important
variables to be studied. It can take several forms:
pilot studies, experience surveys, secondary data
analysis, and case analysis.
Exploratory Research
• Pilot studies: surveys using a limited number of respondents
and often employing less rigorous sampling techniques than
are employed in large, quantitative studies.
• Experience surveys: discussions with knowledgeable
individuals, both inside and outside the organization, who
may provide insights into the problem. (not with the formal
• Case analysis: reviewing info. from situations that are similar
to the current one.
Use of the Symptoms
to Clarify the Problem
• A symptom is a phenomenon that occurs
because of existence of something else.
• Example: problem of poor sales, declining
profits, increased customer complaints, or
defecting customers.  each of these is a
symptom of a deeper problem. That is ,
something is causing a company’s customers
to leave.
Use of the Symptoms
to Clarify the Problem
• Focusing on symptoms and not the true problem is
often referred to as the iceberg principle.
• Approx. 10% of iceberg rises out of the ocean; the
remaining 90% is below the surface.
• Preoccupied with the obstacle they can see,
managers may fail to comprehend and confront the
deeper problem, which remain submerged.
Iceberg Principle
Translate the Management Problem
into a Marketing Research Problem
• Management decision problem: a statement
specifying the type of managerial action required to
solve the problem.
• Once it has been identified, it must be converted into
a marketing research problem.
• The marketing research problem specifies what info.
is needed to solve the problem and how that info.
can be obtained efficiently and effectively.
Determine Whether the
Information Already Exists
• Using existing data can save managers time
and money if such data can answer the
research question.
Determine Whether the Question
Can Be Answered
• When marketing researchers promise more than
they can deliver, they hurt the credibility of
marketing research.
• It is extremely important for the researchers to avoid
being impelled into an effort that they know has a
limited probability of success.
State the Research Objectives
• The climax of the problem definition is a statement
of the research objectives.
• These are stated in terms of the precise info.
necessary to address the marketing research
• Research objectives must be specific and
unambiguous as possible.
Marketing Research Process
on the
Problem and
Statement of
4. Selection
of the
2. Creation
of the
3. Choice of
Method of
5. Collection
of the Data
8. Follow-up
6. Analysis of
the Data
7. Writing
of the
2. Creating Research Design
• Research design: the plan to be followed to
answer the marketing research objectives.
• There is no single best design. Instead,
different designs offer array of choices, with
certain advantages and disadvantages.
• First, the researchers need to decide whether
the research will be descriptive or causal.
Descriptive and Causal Studies
• Descriptive studies: research studies that answer the
questions who, what, when, where, and how. It
primarily describe what is going on/ what exists.
• Implicit descriptive research is the fact that
management already knows/understands the
underlying relationships among the variables in the
– Variable: a symbol/concept that can assume any one of a
set values.
Descriptive and Causal Studies
• Causal studies: research that examine
whether the value of one variable causes or
determines the value of another variable.
– Dependent variable: a symbol/concept expected
to be explained or influenced by independent
– Independent variable: a symbol/concept over
which the researcher has some control and that is
hypothesized to cause or influence the dependent
3. Choosing a Basic Method of
1. Survey research: research in which an interviewer
interacts with respondents to obtain facts, opinion,
and attitudes.
2. Observation research: descriptive research that
monitors respondents’ actions without direct
3. Experiment research: research to measure
causality, in which the researcher changes one or
more variables and observes the effect of the
changes on another variable.
4. Selecting the Sampling
• A sample is subset from a larger population.
• Several questions must be answered before a
sampling procedure is selected.
1. The population/universe of interest must be
2. Whether to use a probability sample or
nonprobability sample (more details will be in
the sampling topic)
5. Collecting Data
• Interview-based data collection is done by
marketing research field services.
• To ensure that all subcontractors do
everything exactly the same way, detailed field
instructions should be developed to every job.
6. Analyzing the Data
• The purpose of this analysis is to interpret and
draw conclusions from mass of collected data.
• The marketing researcher may use a variety of
techniques for the analysis.
7. Writing and Presenting
the Report
• The researcher must prepare the report and
communicate the conclusions and recommendations
to management in both written and oral reports.
• This is a key step in the process because a marketing
researcher who wants project conclusions acted on
must convince the manager that the results are
credible and justified by the data collected.
8. Following Up
• It is important that the research finding be
• Management should determine whether the
recommendations were followed and, if not,
why not.
Managing Research Process
• The Research Request
• Request for Proposal
• What to Look for in a Marketing Research
Managing Research Process
The Research Request
• An internal document used by large
organizations that describes a potential
research project, its benefits to the
organization, and estimated costs; it must be
formally approved before a research project
can begin.
The Research Request
• The sections of a formal research request are as follows:
– Action: actions to be taken on the basis of research
– Origin: events led to a need for decision
– Information: list the questions that needs to have answered to
take action
– Use: how each piece of info. will be used to help make the
actual decision
– Target groups and subgroups
– Logistics: approximation of the available budget and time
– Comments: other comments relevant to the research project
Managing Research Process
Request for Proposal (RFP)
• A solicitation sent to marketing research suppliers
inviting them to submit a formal proposal, including a
• A typical RFP provides background data on why a study
is to be conducted, outlines the research objectives,
describes a methodology, and suggests a time frame.
• Most of RFPs also ask for (1) detailed cost breakdown,
(2) the supplier’s experience in relevant area, and (3)
Managing Research Process
What to Look for in a Marketing Research Supplier
• Top 10 list of desirable qualities in marketing researchers:
Maintains client confidentiality
Is honest
Is punctual
Is flexible
Delivers against project specifications
Provides high-quality output
Is responsive to the client’s needs
Has high quality control standards
Is customer-oriented in interactions with client
Keeps the client informed throughout a project
1st Part of Group Project
(10 out of 30 points)
• Group of 6 members (8 groups)
• Presentation on the selected topic
• Start your presentation from next week (1 group/ class)
Exploratory research and qualitative analysis (Tong)
Digital research using secondary data (Kloster)
Survey research (Eyes)
Observation (Pim)
Experimental research and test marketing (Jeerapa)
Measurement (Phitpawee)
Questionnaire design (May)
Sampling: sample design and sample size (Zinn)