Almost all the goods we buy, all the services we use, we get to know about them from one source or another. Some of them we get to know through word of mouth, others through advertisement. The practice of advertising and gathering resources to sell your services to a group of people comes under marketing.
To market your product or services, you must know about the market you are going to sell to, the products or services already being sold in that market, and the past, present, and future potential clients for the product or service and develop strategies for running and managing marketing campaigns around the same.
Harry Hapner describes Marketing Research as “an inclusive term which embraces all research activities carried on for the management of marketing work, the gathering, recording and analyzing of all facts about problems relating to the transfer and sale of goods and services from producer to consumer.”
Marketing Research links the consumer, the Customer, and the public through information used to:
- Identify & Define Marketing Opportunities
- Generate refine & Evaluate Marketing Actions.
- Monitor Marketing performance
- Improve understanding of marketing as a process
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Why is it important to do Marketing Research?
The role of marketing research is to help managers better understand the environment in which they operate and help them improve the quality of the marketing strategies that are undertaken by them.
It helps individual businesses as well at the same time to make well-informed decisions and ascertain the success of their advertising.
Marketing research allows businesses and companies to gather the information that might be affecting their business positively or negatively. For eg, simple marketing research on the product’s reachability to see which age groups are more recipients of the services and product.
Before releasing a product line or a new set of services most companies do extensive marketing research to gauge market reception and demand and at the same time make sure they can manage marketing campaigns accordingly. Successful marketing research will give you insights on the optimal pricing range of the product, the target audience most likely to engage with the product, and help you with analyzing competitor strategies and analyzing them properly.
Marketing Research vs Market Research
Marketing research and Market research – these keywords are often used interchangeably although they have very different meanings and are very distinct from each other.
Marketing Research is more of a broader term which includes market research as well.
Marketing Research is concerned with more broad jurisdiction which includes everything from product research, sales analysis, media advertising, personal selling and marketing intermediaries.
Market research on the other hand is more of a narrow concept which concerns itself only with researching on the ins and outs of the market in which a product is to be launched: competitor product strategy, target audience, and how the target market would respond to the particular product.
What are the different types of Marketing research?
Marketing Research as a process is a daunting task but when done properly helps you gain proper insight into the different aspects of marketing with relation to a particular product line and helps you iron out the creases in your marketing strategy.
But before we delve into the steps of marketing research we need to know about the different categories into which Marketing research is divided into and the abscess on which these divisions have been done:
- On the basis of time horizons where the marketing research might have an end time , the section can be divided as ad-hoc research and continuous research. While ad-hoc research limits the entire marketing research strategy for the time period during which it is required, rather than carrying on throughout on a regular basis which is what happens in case of continuous research.
- On the basis of the two different types of data that are obtained during the research period, there is Quantitative data which will include mostly numeric data obtained from sales reports and account records and at the same time derived data that is obtained from questionnaire and other customer survey data.
- On the other hand there could also be Qualitative data which is usually obtained over a smaller time period such as during Ad-hoc research, where the data is mostly in the form of descriptions and an understanding gradient rather than just pure numerical data, which helps with giving better development of concepts that are useful in defining and compartmentalizing market segments.
- The third category essentially classifies marketing research on the basis of the objective that the research intends to fulfill. While some marketing research might be exploratory in nature, to identify the nature of new markets or find new niches and areas to explore in the existing markets. It is done purely for indicating new issues or generating new sets of ideas to solve a particular problem. The entire process is mostly problem-oriented and hence is usually carried out in Ad-hoc research practice.
While on the other hand, conclusive research is used to provide management with conclusive evidence on particular topics. It is usually used to conclude end results of proposed hypotheses to set up how fairly they stand true with respect to the field data obtained.
What are the different areas of Marketing research?
Marketing research cannot be restricted to a particular field or a particular domain. Being highly exhaustive and extensive in its nature, Marketing Research is done in multiple domains and across different genres. Let us explore some of these genres:
- Product research Area: The first thing you are expected to research as a marketing researcher is a product. The research activities might delve into areas such as developing product specifications, concept development, product testing, and testing marketing research.
- Advertising Research: This is another frequently researched domain where brands and companies usually spend a lot to know about the insights of the marketing campaigns for a particular product or service, and how much of the target audience is actually aware of their products. The research areas may also delve into research for setting advertising objectives, testing the effectiveness of ad campaigns via copy testing, and choosing the most cost-effective advertising media for the advertisement campaigns through media research.
- Sales Research: This domain particularly is the most important aspect of marketing research as the effectiveness of all prior research ultimately leads to the conclusion of this particular research. It involves the identification and measurement of all those variables that will together affect the sales of the product. It involves analysis of actual sales reports and analyzing different territories of the failure and success of the product, evaluating the efficiency of the distribution channels and the cost they bear, evaluating the performance of the sales force of the company, and forecasting the sales for the next quarter.
- Motivation and Attitude Research: The research on the hidden purchase motives of consumers to formulate better marketing strategies and how frequently consumers are likely to buy the products come under motivation and attitude research. It is usually measured via feedback questionnaires and thus indirect methods are usually employed to derive the results.
The Marketing Research process
Marketing research is a simple 5 step process that starts with a Problem definition and ends with proper action based on the found data. Let us look at each and every process step-by-step;
The first step to any research activity irrespective of the domain is to clearly identify the problem and define it. Defining the problem will help you put into perspective the things you need to infer from your study and how you go about procuring that particular information.
After problem identification, you must also set up a set of preliminary objectives that you expect to achieve by the end of the research activity
This can be best done by developing proper questions to define the problem and help make the problem statement more specific and to the point without much ambiguity.
Develop a Research Plan
Once we have established our objectives and the problem statement, we need to look at the methodology for conducting our research. You first look at the information needed to research upon and define proper guidelines to obtain the information needed. You also establish proper research and analysis methods to keep it easily accessible according to industry standards.
While at the same time you will also have to allocate resources and funds accordingly based on this research plan. Upon establishment of proper lines of funds and necessary research guidelines the final step would be to establish responsible parties for dividing every responsibility as to who will interpret the research findings, what will be the medium of communication of the research and all those ideas.
Conducting the research
Conducting the research is the actionable step and the most important step of the entire process. It firstly involves reviewing data from secondary sources which are already available and verified such as prior research projects, internal data records and their analysis, industry reports and other information sources that gives you a preliminary insight into the research objective and might help establish trends.
Once that is done you are expected to conduct fresh research on certain aspects which you might believe are pertinent to the study, and work on them accordingly.This includes identifying the right individuals and number of people to talk to, using carefully worded surveys or interview scripts, and capturing data accurately.
Analyze and Report Findings
Once you have obtained your data accurately from primary and secondary sources it is time that you format them according to industry standards and analyze them. Cleaning the data, formatting it, and editing the data to make sure it is suitable for analyzing through the different suitable techniques is also a part of this step.
The data is then analyzed through different analysis tools to obtain the results that are required to arrive at the outcome of the study objectives. Once the analysis is done the findings are expected to be reported and noted down in proper format. All the results are then tabulated and laid down in a proper report format for presentation and suitable recommendations that can be made on the basis of the relevant results obtained.
Once the reports have been made and recommendations have been put forth, these recommendations and reports need to be acted upon. Proper thought and planning have to be put into consideration to translate the report findings into proper actionable measures. For this, orough research on the availability of resources and necessary options available is done.
Once a few possible actionable points are obtained, then the management debates upon them and decides the best course of action that was to follow, and accordingly, the marketing team can act as a guide to help the management tell the best course of action. In case the best course of action involves significant restructuring or redevelopment, in that case, the management decides the necessary adjustments that can be made on the basis of the report generated and plan possible execution accordingly.
Limitations of Marketing Research
Marketing research is a great way for big companies to boost their productivity and find areas and niches to focus their resources. However although beneficial in the long run there are a few factors that limit its viability;
Marketing research covers multiple facets of the product from its inception to the point up to which it has been introduced in the market and sometimes even after that. As a result, there are a lot of resources that are needed to be devoted to the particular domain in terms of manpower, money, and time making it a non-viable option for smaller businesses.
The credibility of decision-making bodies
The entire exercise may not even result in useful decisions since Marketing research at the end of the day just gives us well-crunched numbers. The ability to accurately present them and classify them depends on the dearth and credibility of the staff employed. At the same time, it is also to be noted that in the end it only provides us with tools for better decision-making and does not necessarily do it for us. Ultimately it depends on the credibility of the manager’s abilities to make the correct decisions.
Does not guarantee success.
The problem with the marketing field is it is not accurate. Market behavior and consumer behavior are always dynamic, hence the marketing research results are never conclusive or static in reality as they keep changing and are neither direct nor accurate at the end of the day. The lack of stability or rather the uniformity makes it difficult to study all the problems that are noted in research.
All in all marketing research is an important tool for big businesses to properly navigate their way to garner profits. However, it is of utmost importance to understand that marketing research should only be employed when it is financially viable for the company to do so as conducting Marketing research does not necessarily mean it will guarantee the success of a product by the company. It will simply provide you with the best tools in place to give you a proper analysis and direction of the best course of action throughout.
What is Marketing Research?
The process of determining market statistics and determining the viability of a new service or product involves thorough research being conducted across multiple spheres such as Advertising, customer demands, advertisement policy, etc.
What are the 5 main steps of the Research Process?
The five main steps of the Research Process are:
- Problem Definition
- Develop a Research Plan
- Conducting the research
- Analyze and Report Findings
- Taking Action
What are the characteristics of marketing research?
The main characteristics of marketing research are it helps with a systemic analysis of the problem at hand, builds necessary analyzing skills and fact finds for the purpose of improved decision making and control in the marketing of products.