Marketing Research (Encyclopedia of Business and Finance)
Accelerating product cycles, easy access to information on products and services, highly discerning consumers, and fierce competition among companies are all a reality in the world of business. Too many companies are chasing too few consumers. In his book "Kotler on Marketing: How to Creat, Win, and Dominate Markets," Philip Kotler, marketing guru and a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, discusses what a business has to do to be successful. He wrote, "The premium will go to those companies that invent new ways to create, communicate and deliver value to their target markets" (quoted in Mendenhall, 1999, p. 52).
Knowing, understanding, and responding to your target market is more important than ever. And this requires informationood information. Good information can lead to successful products and services. Good information is the result of market research.
WHAT IS MARKETING RESEARCH?
According to the Marketing Research Association(2000), Marketing Research is defined as follows:
"Marketing Research is the function which links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through informationnformation used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process.
"Marketing Research specifies the information required to address these issues; designs the method of collecting information; manages and implements the data collection process; analyzes the results; and communicates the findings, recommendations and their implications."
Marketing research is a $1.3-billion-dollar-a-year industry. The industry is growing at over 10 percent a year, with profits running at a similar level (Lee, 1999). Marketing Research provides, analyzes, and interprets information for manufacturers on how consumers view their products and services and on how they can better meet consumer needs. The ultimate goal is to please the consumer in order to get, or keep, the consumer's business.
HISTORY OF MARKETING RESEARCH
Pioneers. Marketing Research as an organized business activity began between 1910 and 1920. The appointment of Charles Collidge Parlin as manager of the Commercial Research Division of the Advertising Department of the Curtis Publishing Company in 1911 is generally noted to be the beginning of marketing research. Parlin's success led several industrial firms and advertising media to establish research divisions. In 1915, the United States Rubber Company hired Dr. Paul H. Nystrom to manage a newly established Department of Commercial Research. In 1917, Swift and Company hired Dr. Louis D. H. Weld from Yale University to become manager of their Commercial Research Department.
In 1919, Professor C.S. Duncan of the University of Chicago published Commercial Research: An Outline of Working Principles, considered to be the first major book on commercial research. In 1921, Percival White's Market Analysis was published; the first research book to gain a large readership, it went through several editions. Market Research and Analysis by Lyndon O. Brown, published in 1937, became one of the
most popular college textbooks of the period, reflecting the growing interest in marketing research on the college campus. After 1940, numerous research textbooks were published and the number of business schools offering research courses grew rapidly.
Following World War II, the growth of marketing research increased dramatically. By 1948, more than two hundred Marketing Research organizations had been created in the United States. An estimated $50 million was spent on marketing research activities in 1947. Over the next three decades this expenditure level increased more than tenfold (Kinnear, 1991).
Methodological Development. Major advances in Marketing Research methodology were made from 1910 to 1920. Questionnaires, or surveys, became a popular method of data collection. With the growth of survey research came improvements in questionnaire design and question construction. During The 1930s, sampling became a serious methodological issue. Modern approaches to probability sampling slowly gained acceptance in this period.
From 1950 through the early 1960s, methodological innovations occurred at a fairly steady pace. At this time, a major development occurred: the commercial availability of large-scale digital computers. The computer was responsible for rapidly increasing the pace of methodological innovation, especially in the area of quantitative Marketing Research. As the field of marketing research attracted increasing interest, two new journals began publication in the 1960s: the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Advertising Research (Kinnear, 1991).
The many technological advances in computers in the 1990s had a major impact on many aspects of the Marketing Research profession. These innovations included checkout scanners in supermarkets, computer-assisted telephone interviewing, data analysis by computers, data collection on the Internet, and Web-based surveys.
TYPES OF MARKETING RESEARCH
Marketing Research can be classified as exploratory research, conclusive research, and performance-monitoring research. The stage in the decision-making process for which the information is needed determines the type of research required.
Exploratory research is appropriate for the early stages of the decision-making process. This research is usually designed to provide a preliminary investigation of the situation with a minimum expenditure of cost and time. A variety of approaches to this research are used, including use of secondary data sources, observation, interviews with experts, and case histories.
Conclusive research provides information that helps the manager evaluate and select a course of action. This involves clearly defined research objectives and information needs. Some approaches to this research include surveys, experiments, observations, and simulation. Conclusive research can be subclassified into descriptive research and causal research.
Descriptive research, as its name suggests, is designed to describe somethingor example, the characteristics of consumers of a certain product; the degree to which the use of a product varies with age, income, or sex; or the number of people who saw a specific TV commercial. A majority of Marketing Research studies are of this type (Boyd and West face, 1992).
Causal research is designed to gather evidence regarding the cause-and-effect relationships that exist in the marketing system. For example, if a company reduces the price of a product and then unit sales of the product increase, causal research would show whether this effect was due to the price reduction or some other reason. Causal research must be designed in such a way that the evidence regarding causality is clear. The main sources of data for causal research are interrogating respondents through surveys and conducting experiments.
Performance-monitoring research provides information regarding the status of the marketing system; it signals the presence of potential problems or opportunities. This is an essential element in the control of a business's marketing programs. The data sources for performance-monitoring research include interrogation of respondents, secondary data, and observation.
THE MARKETING RESEARCH PROCESS
The marketing research process is comprised of a series of steps called the research process. To conduct a research project effectively, it is important to anticipate all the steps and recognize their interdependence.
Need for Information. The first step in the research process is establishing the need for Marketing Research information: The researcher must thoroughly understand why the information is needed. The manager is responsible for explaining the situation surrounding the request for information and establishing that the research information will assist in the decision-making process. Establishing the need for research information is a critical and difficult phase of the research process. Too often the importance of this initial step is overlooked, which results in research findings that are not decision-oriented.
Research Objectives. Once the need for research information has been clearly defined, the researcher must specify the objectives of the proposed research and develop a specific list of information needs. Research objectives answer the question "Why is this project being conducted?" The answer could be as broad as the determination of the amount of effort needed to increase the company's market share by 5 percent or as specific as the determination of the most preferred of five moisturizers by women in southern California. Only when the researcher knows the problem that management wants to solve can the research project be designed to provide the pertinent information.
The difficult part of establishing research objectives is the conflict that often exists between the value of information and the research budget. Since each piece of information has some cost associated with it, whether it is the cost of the account manager's travel expenses or the cost of having an outside agency perform a telephone
survey, each piece must be evaluated in terms of its value with respect to the needed decision.
Research Design and Data Sources. The next step in the research process is to design the formal research project and identify the appropriate sources of data for the study. A research design is the framework that specifies the type of information to be collected, the sources of the data, and the data-collection procedures. Although there are many different ways to classify designs, one that gives a clear overview of the various procedures is based on three methods of generating primary data: experimentation, observation, and survey.
Experimentation involves establishing a controlled experiment or model that simulates the real-world marketing situation being investigated. In the observation method, the primary data result from observing the respondents doing something. The survey method involves collecting the primary data by questioning a certain number of people. These are the most widely used methods of obtaining primary data (Hisrich, 1990).
To determine the data sources for the research project, an assessment must first be made of the amount and type of data presently available. These data are called secondary dataata already gathered and available, having been accumulated previously for a different purpose. Although these data are assembled quickly and often at a low cost, sometimes they do not satisfy the research objectives.
There are two types of secondary data: internal (data originating within the firm) and external (published data originating outside the firm). Internal secondary data are all the data originating within the firm that were collected for some purpose other than the objective currently being addressed. Two of the most important types of internal data are sales and cost data.
After the internal secondary data have been examined, additional information can be obtained from published external secondary data. The main sources of external data are (1) the Internet, (2) the government, (3) trade, business, and professional associations, (4) the media, (5) trade journals, (6) universities and foundations, (7) corporate annual reports, and (8) commercial data services. Information obtained from any of these sources must be examined carefully to make sure that it fits the particular needs of the researcher.
- The Internet can provide links to many sources of information, quickly and easily. Searching the Web or visiting a business library's Web site are ways to become familiar with the types of resources available. Two Web sites that are useful in evaluating potential research resources are the New York Public Library's Science, Industry, and Business Library at and the University of Michigan's Document Center at www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Documents.center/stats.html.
- The federal government is by far the largest source of marketing data. Although the data are available at a very low price, if any, once they are located, there is often a cost and time commitment in obtaining it. Some government publications are highly specialized, referring to specific studies of products. Other data are more general in nature. State and local governments also provide information. Data such as birth and death records and information on real estate sales and assessed values are public information and can be obtained from the specific state or local agency.
- Trade, business, and professional associations also have general data on the various activities and sales of their constituency. For example, the National Kitchen & Bath Association will have general information on kitchen and bath design professionals, research design strategies, and remodeling. Although such data will not be company-specific, they are useful in gaining an overall perspective on the industry. Address and membership information for all associations can be found in the Encyclopedia of Associations, updated annually.
- Most magazines, newspapers, and radio and television stations have marketing data available on their audience. Also, media perform periodic market surveys of buying patterns and demographic information in their market area. For example, the Boston Globe does a demographic study of its readers in order to give advertisers a better understanding of the marketing potential of their area.
- Trade journals also provide a wide variety of marketing and sales data on the areas they cover. For example, if market research were needed in the area of computers, then trade journals such as Computer World, Information Week, and PC Magazine should be checked for any pertinent information.
- Universities and foundations perform a variety of research projects. In addition to special studies supported by grants from the government, universities publish general research findings of interest to the business community through their research bureaus and institutes.
- Corporate annual and 10-K reports are also useful sources of information on specific companies or general industry trends. These reports may not provide great detail; however, a general picture of the nature and scope of the firms in an industry as well as their general direction can be constructed.
- There are many firms offering marketing research and commercial data services. Some provide custom research; they design the research project specifically to meet the client's needs. This can be expensive. Others, such as Nielsen Media Research, offer standardized information, compiled regularly and made available to clients on a subscription basis.
After all the secondary data sources have been checked and the needed data have not been found, the third aspect of a research projected beginshe collection of data through primary research. Primary research can be best looked at in terms of three areas: data collection, sample design, and data processing and analysis.
Data Collection. If it has been determined that the required data are not currently available, then the next step is to collect new data. To develop the data-collection procedure, the researcher must establish an effective link between the information needs and the questions to be asked or the observations to be recorded. The process of collecting data is critical, since it typically involves a large proportion of the research budget. The most widely used methods of data collection are focus groups, surveys, or interviews.
Focus groups are often used to collect primary data. A focus group consists of a discussion, usually lasting one and a half to two hours, with eight to twelve individuals and a moderator who is intent on encouraging in-depth discussion of a topic or product. The discussion allows for flexibility and provides broad, in-depth knowledge that cannot be obtained through any other research method.
Surveys, also known as questionnaires, are the most common instrument for data collection. A survey consists of a set of questions presented to respondents for their answers. Surveys need to be carefully developed, tested, and debugged before they are used; they can be administered over the phone, through the mail, via e-mail, or on the Web. Web-based surveys are becoming very common and popular because of their lower cost, convenience, and the increased honesty in responses (Rasmusson, 1999). Web surveys don't replace the traditional techniques, but they can be an effective choice for companies big and small.
Primary research data is often obtained by interviews, either in person or over the telephone. For example, one might personally interview consumers to determine their opinion of a new line of low-fat foods or personally interview a few executives to determine their opinion of a nationally known advertising agency. An advantage of personal interviews is that the interviewer can adapt the question to the specific situation at hand. A limitation to this method is that the interviewer can introduce bias into the process by asking leading questions or by giving some indication of the preferred answer. A lot of time, supervision, and interviewer training are needed to implement personal interviews successfully.
Sample Design. When research is being conducted, it is important to determine the appropriate target population of the researchhe group of people possessing characteristics relevant to the research problem from whom information will be obtained. Although this may appear to be easy, it is often one of the most difficult tasks in a marketing research project because of the wide variety of factors entering into the determination. For example, it might be important that only recent users of the product be surveyed. Or perhaps the purchasers of the product, not the users, should be the focus of the research.
Once the target population is determined, a decision is needed on how best to represent this population within the time and cost constraints of the research budget. Because there are many different methods used to draw this samplehe group of units composed of nonoverlapping elements that are representative of the population from which it is drawnhe best one needs to be chosen for the specific research project.
Data Processing and Analysis. After the data are collected, the processing begins, which includes the functions of editing and coding. Editing involves reviewing the data forms to ensure legibility, consistency, and completeness. Coding involves establishing categories for responses or groups of responses so that numerals can be used to represent the categories (Kinnear, 1991).
It is important that the data analysis be consistent with the requirements of the information needs identified when the research objectives were defined. Data analysis is usually performed with an appropriate software application. This data analysis, whether done by simple numeric counting or by complex computer-assisted analytical techniques, should provide meaningful information appropriate for managerial decisions.
Presentation of Results After the data have been collected and analyzed, the final aspect of the research project can be generatedhe development of the appropriate conclusions and recommendations. This is the most important part of the project, but it does not always receive the proper attention. The research results are typically communicated to the manager through a written report and oral presentation. The research findings should be presented in a clear, simple format and be accompanied by appropriate support material. The best research methodology in the world will be useless to managers if they cannot understand the research report. Some preparation guidelines for the written and oral reports are:
- Consider the audience
- Be concise, yet complete
- Be objective, yet effective
The findings should address the information needs of the decision situation. The final measure of the value of the research project is whether or not the findings are successfully implemented in the company.
THE VALUE OF MARKETING RESEARCH
Marketing Research has, in a way, pioneered the move toward the broader view of marketing. Marketing Research serves as a coordinating factor between marketing and the other functions of a business, such as engineering, manufacturing, accounting, and finance. This integration has the effect of enhancing the importance of marketing research to the corporation as a whole.
Marketing research will continue to play a key role in organizations in the twenty-first century. Technology will enable marketing research to take the lead in providing useful information for effective business decisions. The Internet's role in Marketing Research will continue to grow because it provides a quick, cost-effective way of collecting and disseminating data. Market researchers will continue their evolution from supplying "market and opinion research" to a more strategic position of supplying information, consulting, and exchanging information with consumers (Chadwick, 1998). Companies that take advantage of marketing research and view it as a valuable business component will be the companies that survive and thrive.
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Marketing Research (Encyclopedia of Management)
Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information. This information is used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; to generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; to monitor marketing performance; and to improve understanding of the marketing process. Marketing research specifies the information, manages and implements the data-collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications. Marketing research is concerned with the application of theories, problem-solving methods, and techniques to identify and solve problems in marketing. In order to offset unpredictable consumer behavior, companies invest in market research.
Increased customer focus, demands for resource productivity, and increased domestic and international competition has prompted an increased emphasis on marketing research. Managers cannot always wait for information to arrive in bits and pieces from marketing departments. They often require formal studies of specific situations. For example, Dell Computer might want to know a demographic breakdown of how many and what kinds of people or companies will purchase a new model in its personal computer line. In such situations, the marketing department may not be able to provide from existing knowledge the detailed information needed, and managers normally do not have the skill or time to obtain the information on their own. This formal study, whether performed internally or externally, is called marketing research.
The marketing research process consists of four steps: defining the problem and research objectives, developing the research plan, implementing the research plan, and interpreting and reporting the findings.
DEFINING THE OBJECTIVES
The marketing manager and the researcher must work closely together to define the problem carefully and agree on the research objectives. The manager best understands the decision for which information is needed; the researcher best understands marketing research and how to obtain the information.
Managers must know enough about marketing research to help in the planning and to interpret research results. Managers who know little about the importance of research may obtain irrelevant information or accept inaccurate conclusions. Experienced marketing researchers who understand the manager's problem should also be involved at this stage. The researcher must be able to help the manager define the problem and to suggest ways that research can help the manager make better decisions.
Defining the problem and research objectives is often the hardest step in the research process. The manager may know that something is wrong without knowing the specific causes. For example, managers of a retail clothing store chain decided that falling sales were caused by poor floor set-up and incorrect product positioning. However, research concluded that neither problem was the cause. It turned out that the store had hired sales persons who weren't properly trained in providing good customer service. Careful problem definition would have avoided the cost and delay of research and would have suggested research on the real problem.
When the problem has been defined, the manager and researcher must set the research objectives. A marketing research project might have one of three types of objectives. Sometimes the objective is exploratoryo gather preliminary information that will help define the problem and suggest hypotheses. Sometimes the objective is descriptiveo describe things such as the market potential for a product or the demographics and attitudes of consumers who buy the product. Sometimes the objective is casualo test hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships.
DEVELOPING THE RESEARCH PLAN
The second step of the marketing research process calls for determining the information needed, developing a plan for gathering it efficiently, and presenting the plan to marketing management. The plan outlines sources of secondary data and spells out the specific research approaches, contact methods, sampling plans, and instruments that researchers will use to gather primary data.
A marketing researcher can gather secondary data, primary data, or both. Primary data consists of information collected for the specific purpose at hand. Secondary data consists of information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose. Sources of secondary data include internal sources such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, sales figures, and inventory records; and external sources such as government publications, periodicals, books, and commercial data. Primary data collection requires more extensive research, more time, and more money. Secondary sources can sometimes provide information that is not directly available or would be too expensive to collect.
Secondary data also present problems. The needed information may not exist. Researchers can rarely obtain all the data they need from secondary sources. The researcher must evaluate secondary information carefully to make certain of its relevance (fits research project needs), accuracy (reliably collected and reported), currency (up to date enough for current decisions), and impartiality (objectively collected and reported). Researchers must also understand how secondary sources define basic terms and concepts, as different sources often use the same terms but mean slightly different things, or they attempt to measure the same thing but go about it in different ways. Either way, the result can be that statistics found in secondary sources may not be as accurate or as relevant as they appear on the surface.
Observational research is the gathering of primary data by observing relevant people, actions, and situations. Observational research can be used to obtain information that people are unwilling or unable to provide. In some cases, observation may be the only way to obtain the needed information.
Survey research is the approach best suited for gathering descriptive information. A company that wants to know about people's knowledge, attitudes, preferences, or buying behavior can often find out by asking them directly. Survey research is the most widely used method for primary data collection, and it is often the only method used in a research study. The major advantage of survey research is its flexibility. It can be used to obtain many different kinds of information in many different marketing situations. In the early and mid-1980s, some cola companies created a taste test against their competitors. This is an example of survey research. Participants were allowed to taste different cola brands without knowing which was which. The participant then decided which brand was preferred.
Whereas observation is best suited for exploratory research and surveys for descriptive research, experimental research is best suited for gathering causal information. Experiments involve selecting matched groups of subjects, giving them different treatments, controlling unrelated factors, and checking for differences in group responses. Thus, experimental research tries to explain cause-and-effect relationships.
RESEARCH CONTACT METHODS
Research may be collected by mail, telephone, e-mail, fax, or personal interview. Mail questionnaires can be used to collect large amounts of information at a low cost per respondent. Respondents may give more honest answers to more personal questions on a mail questionnaire than to an unknown interviewer in person or over the phone. However, mail questionnaires lack flexibility in that they require simply worded questions. They can also take a long time to complete, and the response ratehe number of people returning completed questionnairess often very low.
Telephone interviewing is the best method for gathering information quickly, and it provides greater flexibility than mail questionnaires. Interviewers can explain questions that are not understood. Telephone interviewing also allows greater sample control. Response rates tend to be higher than with mail questionnaires. But telephone interviewing also has its drawbacks. The cost per respondent is higher than with mail questionnaires, people may regard a phone call as more of an inconvenience or an intrusion, and they may not want to discuss personal questions with an interviewer. In the latter part of the 1990s, laws were also passed to guard against the invasion of privacy. If a person wishes to be taken off a solicitation or interview list, companies can be sued if they persist in calling.
Personal interviewing consists of inviting several people to talk with a trained interviewer about a company's products or services. The interviewer needs objectivity, knowledge of the subject and industry, and some understanding of group and consumer behavior. Personal interviewing is quite flexible and can be used to collect large amounts of information. Trained interviewers can hold a respondent's attention for a long time and can explain difficult questions. They can guide interviews, explore issues, and probe as the situation requires. The main drawbacks of personal interviewing are costs and sampling problems. Personal interviews may cost three to four times as much as telephone interviews.
Marketing researchers usually draw conclusions about large groups of consumers by studying a relatively small sample of the total consumer population. A sample is a segment of the population selected to represent the population as a whole. Ideally, the sample should be representative so that the researcher can make accurate estimates of the thoughts and behaviors of the larger population. If the sample is not representative, it may lead the company to draw the wrong conclusions and misuse its resources.
The marketing researcher must design a sampling plan, which calls for three decisions:
- Sampling unitetermining who is to be surveyed. The marketing researcher must define the target population that will be sampled. If a company wants feedback on a new basketball shoe, it would be wise to target active players and even professional players.
- Sample sizeetermining the number of people to be surveyed. Large samples give more reliable results than small samples. Samples of less than 1 percent of a population can often provide good reliability, given a credible sampling procedure. Most commercial samples consist of between several hundred and several thousand respondents.
- Sampling procedureetermining how the respondents should be chosen. To obtain a representative sample, a probability (random) sampling of the population should be drawn. This is a means of determining who is reached by the survey to ensure they are indeed a valid cross-section of the sampling unit. Choosing passersby on a street corner, for example, would not produce a random sample, whereas allowing a computer to pick names randomly from a relevant calling list probably would (depending on how the list was compiled). Probability sampling allows the calculation of confidence limits for sampling error.
In collecting primary data, marketing researchers have a choice of two main research instrumentshe questionnaire and mechanical devices. The questionnaire is by far the most common instrument. A questionnaire consists of a set of questions presented to a respondent for his or her answers. In preparing a questionnaire, the marketing researcher must decide what questions to ask, the form of the questions, the wording of the questions, and the ordering of the questions. Each question should be checked to see that it contributes to the research objectives.
Although questionnaires are the most common research instrument, mechanical instruments are also used. Two examples of mechanical instruments are people meters and supermarket scanners. These techniques are not widely used because they tend to be expensive, require unrealistic advertising exposure conditions, and are hard to interpret.
COLLECTING THE INFORMATION
The researcher must now collect the data. This phase is generally the most expensive and the most liable to error. In the case of surveys, four major problems arise. Some respondents will not be at home and will have to be replaced. Other respondents will refuse to cooperate. Still others will give biased or dishonest answers. Finally, some interviewers will occasionally be biased or dishonest.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD MARKETING RESEARCH
Following are the characteristics of good marketing research
- Scientific method. Effective marketing research uses the principles of the scientific method: careful observation, formulation of hypotheses, prediction, and testing.
- Research creativity. At its best, marketing research develops innovative ways to solve a problem.
- Multiple methods. Competent marketing researchers shy away from over-reliance on any one method, preferring to adapt the method to the problem rather than the other way around. They also recognize the desirability of gathering information from multiple sources to give greater confidence.
- Interdependence of models and data. Competent marketing researchers recognize that the facts derive their meaning from models of the problem. These models guide the type of information sought and therefore should be made as explicit as possible.
- Value and cost of information. Competent marketing researchers show concern for estimating the value of information against its cost. Value/cost evaluation helps the marketing research department determine which research projects to conduct, which research designs to use, and whether to gather more information after the initial results are in. Research costs are typically easy to quantify, while the value is harder to anticipate. The value depends on the reliability and validity of the research findings and management's willingness to accept and act on its findings. In general, the most valuable information tends to cost the most because it requires more intensive methods, but of course it is easy to spend a great deal of money on poorly conceived research.
- Healthy skepticism. Competent marketing researchers will show a healthy skepticism toward assumptions made by managers about how the market works.
- Ethical marketing. Most marketing research benefits both the sponsoring company and its consumers. Through marketing research, companies learn more about consumers' needs, and are able to supply more satisfying products and services. However, the misuse of marketing research can also harm or annoy consumers. There are professional ethical standards guiding the proper conduct of research.
PRESENTING THE RESEARCH PLAN
The last step in market research is the presentation of a formal plan. At this stage, the marketing researcher should summarize the plan in a written proposal to management. A written proposal is especially important when the research project will be large and complex or when an outside firm carries it out. The proposal should cover the management problems addressed and the research objectives, the information to be obtained, the sources of secondary information or methods for collecting primary data, and the way the results will help management decision making. A written research plan or proposal makes sure that the marketing manager and researchers have considered all the important aspect of the research and that they agree on why and how the research will be done.
MANAGEMENT'S USE OF MARKETING RESEARCH
In spite of the rapid growth of marketing research, many companies still fail to use it sufficiently or correctly. Several factors can stand in the way of its greater utilization.
- A narrow conception of marketing research. Many managers see marketing research as only a fact-finding operation. The marketing researcher is supposed to design a questionnaire, choose a sample conduct interviews, and report results, often without being given a careful definition of the problem or of the decision alternatives facing management. As a result, some fact finding fails to be useful. This reinforces management's idea of the limited usefulness of some marketing research.
- Uneven caliber of marketing researchers. Some managers view marketing research as little better than a clerical activity and reward it as such. Poorly qualified marketing researchers are hired, and their weak training and deficient creativity lead to unimpressive results. The disappointing results reinforce management's prejudice against expecting too much from marketing research. Management continues to pay low salaries, perpetuating the basic difficulty.
- Late and occasional erroneous findings by marketing research. Managers want quick results that are accurate and conclusive. But good marketing research takes time and money. If they can't perceive the difference between quality and shoddy research, managers become disappointed, and they lower their opinion of the value of marketing research. This is especially a problem in conducting marketing research in foreign countries.
- Intellectual differences. Intellectual divergences between the mental styles of line managers and marketing researchers often get in the way of productive relationships. The marketing researcher's report may seem abstract, complicated, and tentative, while the line manager wants concreteness, simplicity, and certainty. Yet in the more progressive companies, marketing researchers are increasingly being included as members of the product management team, and their influence on marketing strategy in growing.
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