Primary Marketing Research


Primary Marketing Research


1. Interviews

2. Mystery shopping

3. Focus groups

4. Projective techniques

5. Product tests

6. Diaries

7. Omnibus Studies

1.0 Interviews.

This is the technique most associated with marketing research. Interviews can be telephone, face-to-face, or over the Internet.

1.1 Telephone Interview.

Telephone ownership is very common in developed countries. It is ideal for collecting data from a geographically dispersed sample. The interviews tend to be very structured and tend to lack depth. Telephone interviews are cheaper to conduct than face-to-face interviews (on a per person basis).

Primary marketing research is collected for the first time. It is original and collected for a specific purpose, or to solve a specific problem. It is expensive, and time consuming, but is more focused than secondary research. There are many ways to conduct primary research. We consider some of them:

Advantages of telephone interviews

  • Can be geographically spread
  • Can be set up and conducted relatively cheaply
  • Random samples can be selected
  • Cheaper than face-to-face interviews

Disadvantages of telephone interviews

  • Respondents can simply hang up
  • Interviews tend to be a lot shorter
  • Visual aids cannot be used
  • Researchers cannot behavior or body language

1.2 Face-to-face Interviews.

Face-to face interviews are conducted between a market researcher and a respondent. Data is collected on a survey. Some surveys are very rigid or ‘structured’ and use closed questions. Data is easily compared. Other face-to-face interviews are more ‘in depth,’ and depend upon more open forms of questioning. The research will probe and develop points of interest.

Advantages of face-to-face interviews

  • They allow more ‘depth’
  • Physical prompts such as products and pictures can be used
  • Body language can emphasize responses
  • Respondents can be ‘observed’ at the same time

Disadvantages of face-to-face interviews

  • Interviews can be expensive
  • It can take a long period of time to arrange and conduct.
  • Some respondents will give biased responses when face-to-face with a researcher.

1.3 The Internet

The Internet can be used in a number of ways to collect primary data. Visitors to sites can be asked to complete electronic questionnaires. However responses will increase if an incentive is offered such as a free newsletter, or free membership. Other important data is collected when visitors sign up for membership.

Advantages of the Internet

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Uses graphics and visual aids
  • Random samples can be selected
  • Visitors tend to be loyal to particular sites and are willing to give up time to complete the forms

Disadvantages of the Internet

  • Only surveys current, not potential customers.
  • Needs knowledge of software to set up questionnaires and methods of processing data
  • May deter visitors from your website.

1.4 Mail Survey

In many countries, the mail survey is the most appropriate way to gather primary data. Lists are collated, or purchased, and a predesigned questionnaire is mailed to a sample of respondents. Mail surveys do not tend to generate more than a 5-10% response rate. However, a second mailing to prompt or remind respondents tends to improve response rates. Mail surveys are less popular with the advent of technologies such as the Internet and telephones, especially call centers.

2.0 Mystery Shopping

Companies will set up mystery shopping campaigns on an organizations behalf. Often used in banking, retailing, travel, cafes and restaurants, and many other customer focused organizations, mystery shoppers will enter, posing as real customers. They collect data on customer service and the customer experience. Findings are reported back to the commissioning organization. There are many issues surrounding the ethics of such an approach to research.

3.0 Focus Groups.

Focus groups are made up from a number of selected respondents based together in the same room. Highly experienced researchers work with the focus group to gather in depth qualitative feedback. Groups tend to be made up from 10 to 18 participants. Discussion, opinion, and beliefs are encouraged, and the research will probe into specific areas that are of interest to the company commissioning the research.

Advantages of focus groups

  • Commissioning marketers often observe the group from behind a one-way screen
  • Visual aids and tangible products can be circulated and opinions taken
  • All participants and the researcher interact
  • Areas of specific interest can be covered in greater depth

Disadvantages of focus groups

  • Highly experienced researchers are needed. The are rare.
  • Complex to organize
  • Can be very expensive in comparison to other methods

4.0 Projective techniques.

Projective techniques are borrowed from the field of psychology. They will generate highly subjective qualitative data. There are many examples of such approaches including: Inkblot tests – look for images in a series of inkblots Cartoons – complete the ‘bubbles’ on a cartoon series Sentence or story completion Word association – depends on very quick (subconscious) responses to words Psychodrama – Imagine that you are a product and describe what it is like to be operated, warn, or used.

5.0 Product tests.

Product tests are often completed as part of the ‘test’ marketing process. Products are displayed in a mall of shopping center. Potential customers are asked to visit the store and their purchase behavior is observed. Observers will contemplate how the product is handled, how the packing is read, how much time the consumer spends with the product, and so on.

6.0 Diaries.

Diaries are used by a number of specially recruited consumers. They are asked to complete a diary that lists and records their purchasing behavior of a period of time (weeks, months, or years). It demands a substantial commitment on the part of the respondent. However, by collecting a series of diaries with a number of entries, the researcher has a reasonable picture of purchasing behavior.

7.0 Omnibus Studies.

An omnibus study is where an organisation purchases a single or a few questions on a ‘hybrid’ interview (either face-to-face or by telephone). The organisation will be one of many that simply want to a straightforward answer to a simple question. An omnibus survey could include questions from companies in sectors as diverse as heath care and tobacco. The research is far cheaper, and commit less time and effort than conducting your own research.

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 market research and secondary marketing research)