Introduction to Marketing Research

Market research and marketing research are often confused. 'Market' research is simply research into a specific market. It is a very narrow concept. 'Marketing' research is much broader. It not only includes 'market' research, but also areas such as research into new products, or modes of distribution such as via the Internet. Here are a couple of definitions:

"Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information - information 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 methods for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes, and communicates the findings and their implications."

American Marketing Association (AMA) - Official Definition of Marketing Research

How do the professionals do marketing research?

Obviously, this is a very long and involved definition of marketing research.

"Marketing research is about researching the whole of a company's marketing process."

Palmer (2000).

This explanation is far more straightforward i.e. marketing research into the elements of the marketing mix, competitors, markets, and everything to do with the customers.

The Marketing research Process.

Marketing research is gathered using a systematic approach. An example of one follows:

1. Define the problem. Never conduct research for things that you would 'like' to know. Make sure that you really 'need' to know something. The problem then becomes the focus of the research. For example, why are sales falling in New Zealand?

2. How will you collect the data that you will analyze to solve your problem? Do we conduct a telephone survey, or do we arrange a focus group? The methods of data collection will be discussed in more detail later.

3. Select a sampling method. Do we us a random sample, stratified sample, or cluster sample?

4. How will we analyze any data collected? What software will we use? What degree of accuracy is required?

5. Decide upon a budget and a timeframe.

6. Go back and speak to the managers or clients requesting the research. Make sure that you agree on the problem! If you gain approval, then move on to step seven. 7. Go ahead and collect the data.

8. Conduct the analysis of the data.

9. Check for errors. It is not uncommon to find errors in sampling, data collection method, or analytic mistakes.

10. Write your final report. This will contain charts, tables, and diagrams that will communicate the results of the research, and hopefully lead to a solution to your problem. Watch out for errors in interpretation.

Sources of Data - Primary and Secondary

There are two main sources of data - primary and secondary. primary research is conducted from scratch. It is original and collected to solve the problem in hand. secondary research, also known as desk research, already exists since it has been collected for other purposes.

We have given a general introduction to marketing research. Marketing research is a huge topic area and has many processes, procedures, and terminologies that build upon the points above. (See also lesson on primary marketing research and secondary marketing research).

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