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The Basic Steps of the Marketing Research Process

Research Objective

❶Common modes of research communication include interviews conducted face-to-face, by mail, by telephone, by email, or over the Internet. In this post, I will show you the steps of conducting a marketing research project.

Stage 2: Method of Inquiry

Data Sources
Step 1: Define the Problem (or Opportunity)
10.2 Steps in the Marketing Research Process

Coke is an example. To be sure, the United States is still a huge market when it comes to the revenues marketing research firms generate by conducting research in the country: Still, emerging countries with growing middle classes, such as China, India, and Brazil, are hot new markets companies want to tap.

What kind of challenges do firms face when trying to conduct marketing research abroad? As we explained, face-to-face surveys are commonly used in third world countries to collect information from people who cannot read or lack phones and computers.

However, face-to-face surveys are also common in Europe, despite the fact that phones and computers are readily available. In-home surveys are also common in parts of Europe. In many Muslim countries, women are forbidden to talk to strangers.

And how do you figure out whom to research in foreign countries? That in itself is a problem. In the United States, researchers often ask if they can talk to the heads of households to conduct marketing research.

Translating surveys is also an issue. Have you ever watched the TV comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman make fun of the English translations found on ethnic menus and products? Research tools such as surveys can suffer from the same problem.

One way companies try to deal with translation problems is by using back translation. When back translation is used, a native speaker translates the survey into the foreign language and then translates it back again to the original language to determine if there were gaps in meaning—that is, if anything was lost in translation. If the research involves any visual images, they, too, could be a point of confusion. Certain colors, shapes, and symbols can have negative connotations in other countries.

For example, the color white represents purity in many Western cultures, but in China, it is the color of death and mourning Zouhali-Worrall, Also, look back at the cartoon-completion exercise in Figure One way marketing research companies are dealing with the complexities of global research is by merging with or acquiring marketing research companies abroad.

The Nielsen Company is the largest marketing research company in the world. The firm operates in more than a hundred countries and employs more than forty thousand people. Many of its expansions have been the result of acquisitions and mergers. Or respondents might have already entered the information directly into a computer. Companies are also beginning to experiment with software that can be used to collect data using mobile phones.

Once all the data is collected, the researchers begin the data cleaning , which is the process of removing data that have accidentally been duplicated entered twice into the computer or correcting data that have obviously been recorded wrong. A program such as Microsoft Excel or a statistical program such as Predictive Analytics Software PASW, which was formerly known as SPSS is then used to tabulate, or calculate, the basic results of the research, such as the total number of participants and how collectively they answered various questions.

The programs can also be used to calculate averages, such as the average age of respondents, their average satisfaction, and so forth. The same can done for percentages, and other values you learned about, or will learn about, in a statistics course, such as the standard deviation, mean, and median for each question. The information generated by the programs can be used to draw conclusions, such as what all customers might like or not like about an offering based on what the sample group liked or did not like.

The information can also be used to spot differences among groups of people. For example, the research might show that people in one area of the country like the product better than people in another area. Trends to predict what might happen in the future can also be spotted. As we have explained, qualitative information such as this can give you a fuller picture of the results of the research.

Part of analyzing the data is to see if it seems sound. Does the way in which the research was conducted seem sound? Was the sample size large enough? Are the conclusions that become apparent from it reasonable? The two most commonly used criteria used to test the soundness of a study are 1 validity and 2 reliability. A study is valid if it actually tested what it was designed to test. For example, did the experiment you ran in Second Life test what it was designed to test?

Did it reflect what could really happen in the real world? If you were to repeat the study, and get the same results or nearly the same results , the research is said to be reliable. The data collected, or at least some it, can also be compared to, or reconciled with, similar data from other sources either gathered by your firm or by another organization to see if the information seems on target.

If you end up becoming a marketing professional and conducting a research study after you graduate, hopefully you will do a great job putting the study together. You will have defined the problem correctly, chosen the right sample, collected the data accurately, analyzed it, and your findings will be sound. At that point, you will be required to write the research report and perhaps present it to an audience of decision makers. You will do so via a written report and, in some cases, a slide or PowerPoint presentation based on your written report.

The six basic elements of a research report are as follows. The methodology section of the report explains the technical details of how the research was designed and conducted. The section explains, for example, how the data was collected and by whom, the size of the sample, how it was chosen, and whom or what it consisted of e.

It also includes information about the statistical techniques used to analyze the data. Every study has errors—sampling errors, interviewer errors, and so forth. The methodology section should explain these details, so decision makers can consider their overall impact. The margin of error is the overall tendency of the study to be off kilter—that is, how far it could have gone wrong in either direction.

Remember how newscasters present the presidential polls before an election? The larger the margin of error is, the less likely the results of the study are accurate. The margin of error needs to be included in the methodology section. As we have said, these are the basic sections of a marketing research report. However, additional sections can be added as needed.

As you write the research report, keep your audience in mind. If technical terms must be used, explain them. Also, proofread the document to ferret out any grammatical errors and typos, and ask a couple of other people to proofread behind you to catch any mistakes you might have missed.

If your research report is riddled with errors, its credibility will be undermined, even if the findings and recommendations you make are extremely accurate. Many research reports are presented via PowerPoint. The information will be too long and tedious for people attending the presentation to read through. After or during the presentation, you can give the attendees the longer, paper version of the report so they can read the details at a convenient time, if they choose to.

Step 1 in the marketing research process is to define the problem. Businesses take a look at what they believe are symptoms and try to drill down to the potential causes so as to precisely define the problem.

The next task for the researcher is to put into writing the research objective, or goal, the research is supposed to accomplish. Step 2 in the process is to design the research. Step 3 is to design the data-collection forms, which need to be standardized so the information gathered on each is comparable. Surveys are a popular way to gather data because they can be easily administered to large numbers of people fairly quickly. However, to produce the best results, survey questionnaires need to be carefully designed and pretested before they are used.

Step 4 is drawing the sample, or a subset of potential buyers who are representative of your entire target market. If the sample is not correctly selected, the research will be flawed. The data-collection process is often different in foreign countries. Step 6 is to analyze the data collected for any obvious errors, tabulate the data, and then draw conclusions from it based on the results.

The last step in the process, Step 7, is writing the research report and presenting the findings to decision makers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, , An Applied Approach , 6th ed. Prentice Hall , Gates, Marketing Research Essentials , 2nd ed.

South-Western College Publishing, , Louis Post-Dispatch , August 16, , http: Stevens, and David L. Text and Cases , 2nd ed. Haworth Press, , This is a derivative of Principles of Marketing by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, which was originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA.

For uses beyond those covered by law or the Creative Commons license, permission to reuse should be sought directly from the copyright owner. Learning Objective Describe the basic steps in the marketing research process and the purpose of each step. If you approach a marketing research company with either scenario—either too much or too little business—the firm will seek more information from you such as the following: In what semester s did your tutoring revenues fall or rise?

In what subject areas did your tutoring revenues fall or rise? In what sales channels did revenues fall or rise: Were there fewer or more referrals from professors or other students? Did the ad you ran result in fewer or more referrals this month than in the past months?

Among what demographic groups did your revenues fall or rise —women or men, people with certain majors, or first-year, second-, third-, or fourth-year students? The marketing research objective for your tutoring business might read as follows: The following is an example: Design the Research The next step in the marketing research process is to do a research design.

Gauging the Credibility of Secondary Data: Questions to Ask Who gathered this information? What does the person or organization that gathered the information have to gain by doing so? Was the information gathered and reported in a systematic manner? Is the source of the information accepted as an authority by other experts in the field?

Does the article provide objective evidence to support the position presented? Research designs fall into one of the following three categories: What is its purpose? Identify the people who will participate in the focus group. What makes them qualified to participate? How many of them will you need and what they will be paid? Obtain contact information for the participants and send out invitations usually e-mails are most efficient.

Develop a list of questions. Choose a location in which to hold the focus group and the method by which it will be recorded. Conduct the focus group. If the focus group is not conducted electronically, include name tags for the participants, pens and notepads, any materials the participants need to see, and refreshments. Summarize the notes from the focus group and write a report for management. Descriptive Research Anything that can be observed and counted falls into the category of descriptive research design.

Causal Research Causal research design examines cause-and-effect relationships. Wagner, Why is being able to control the setting so important? Questionnaire Design Most questionnaires follow a similar format: Consider the following question: Specify the Sample Once you have created your questionnaire or other marketing study, how do you figure out who should participate in it? Collect the Data As we have explained, primary marketing research data can be gathered in a number of ways.

Collecting International Marketing Research Data Gathering marketing research data in foreign countries poses special challenges. Write the Research Report and Present Its Findings If you end up becoming a marketing professional and conducting a research study after you graduate, hopefully you will do a great job putting the study together.

The title page explains what the report is about, when it was conducted and by whom, and who requested it. The table of contents outlines the major parts of the report, as well as any graphs and charts, and the page numbers on which they can be found.

The executive summary summarizes all the details in the report in a very quick way. The clear-cut statement of problem may not be possible at the very outset of research process because often only the symptoms of the problems are apparent at that stage. Then, after some explanatory research, clear definition of the problem is of crucial importance in marketing research because such research is a costly process involving time, energy and money. Clear definition of the problem helps the researcher in all subsequent research efforts including setting of proper research objectives, the determination of the techniques to be used, and the extent of information to be collected.

It may be noted that the methods of explanatory research popularly in use are—survey of secondary data, experience survey, or pilot studies, i.

After identifying and defining the problem with or without explanatory research, the researcher must take a formal statement of research objectives.

Such objectives may be stated in qualitative or quantitative terms and expressed as research questions, statement or hypothesis. On the other hand, a hypothesis is a statement that can be refuted or supported by empirical finding. Example of another hypothesis may be: After defining the research problem and deciding the objectives, the research design must be developed.

A research design is a master plan specifying the procedure for collecting and analysing the needed information. It represents a framework for the research plan of action. The objectives of the study are included in the research design to ensure that data collected are relevant to the objectives. At this stage, the researcher should also determine the type of sources of information needed, the data collection method e.

Important questions in this regard are— who is to be sampled as a rightly representative lot? What should be the sample size—how large or how small? Marketing Research is a well-planned, systematic process which implies that it needs planning at all the stages. It uses scientific method. It is an objective process as it attempts to provide accurate authentic information. Marketing Research is sometimes defined as the application of scientific method in the solution of marketing problems.

Marketing Research plays a very significant role in identifying the needs of customers and meeting them in best possible way. The main task of Marketing Research is systematic gathering and analysis of information. Whatever information are generated by Marketing Research from internal sources, external sources, marketing intelligence agencies-consist the part of MIS. MIS is a set of formalized procedures for generating, analyzing, storing and distributing information to marketing decision makers on an ongoing basis.

While Marketing Research is done with a specific purpose in mind with information being generated when it is conducted, MIS information is generated continuously. MIS is continuous entity while Marketing Research is a ad-hoc system. While in Marketing Research information is for specific purpose, so it is not rigid; in MIS information is more rigid and structured.

Marketing Research is essential for strategic market planning and decision making. It helps a firm in identifying what are the market opportunities and constraints, in developing and implementing market strategies, and in evaluating the effectiveness of marketing plans. Marketing Research is a growing and widely used business activity as the sellers need to know more about their final consumers but are generally widely separated from those consumers.

Marketing Research is a necessary link between marketing decision makers and the markets in which they operate. Marketing Research includes various important principles for generating information which is useful to managers. These principles relate to the timeliness and importance of data, the significance of defining objectives cautiously and clearly, and the need to avoid conducting research to support decisions already made.

How you do market research? Why is Problem definition stage is the most critical in the research process than the problem solution stage? The problem definition stage is probably the most important stage in the research process because it involves several interrelated steps.

One it ascertains the decision maker's objectives. That is, the purpose for conducting the research and what the decision maker hopes to accomplish. Also, it narrows broad and vague ideas into manageable specific difficulties to to solved. In other words, it helps decision makers zoom in on the right questions to be answered. Two it gives background analysis of the problem in view. That is, it points to where the problem is located, how it fits with current developments, and what the current environment is, which is crucial when working out whether a solution will actually work or not.

Three it isolates and identifies the problem rather than the symptoms. That is, it gets to the center of the problem to be solved so that possible solutions can be generated. In essence, the problem definition stage allows decision makers to identify the specific problem to be solved so they can search for alternative solutions, which as a result, help them select the best alternative that eventually decide the course of action.

What are the phases of administrative process in marketing research? Do the stages in the research process follow the scientific method? The scientific method involves making a hypothesis and subjectingit to testable experimentation.

The research process is analogousas it utilizes the scientific method by making a thesis, creatingtests to confirm or support it, citing sources, and opening thework to peer review and verification of methodologies.

When do marketers need marketing research? It is beneficial for marketers to have market research conducted atall stages of their business. The more research they have done themore realistic goals and decisions they can make.

Well via market research you have a data about your branch reachand what common folks think about your brand buy fall in the trapof survey sites you can take the market survey on your own thereare lots of software tools and apps which you can use for surveypurpose I am using this Survtapp which helps me get feedbackdata right on my mobile even in offline mode to!! What is the market research market worth?

If you want to bring out research on a standard basis to evaluateconsumer thoughts and opinions of your products, services,marketing efforts or the marketplace itself, you will find havingyour own market research panel provides you limitless opportunityto do this.

Once established, your panel can be used as frequentlyas you need, and can be made up of the right demographic for yourorganization, meaning opinions polled are representative of yourtarget market. Why do marketers use marketing research? For many reasons, One of the main reasons for marketing research is to understand the wants and needs of the target market in order to properly communicate to them through manipulation of the marketing mix Product, Price, Place, Promotion.

In the compiling and organizing stage of the research process your job is to and to? The three choices that are among the key process steps for technology-focused strategic market research are?

Identify primary commercial and government customers of the technology Identify relevant enabling technologies Identify experts in the integration of the technology in larger-scale applications.

In the early nineteenth century a woman who wanted a new dress had two choices: If she decided to hire someone, she would pick out the fabric and get measured, and the dress would be custom-made for her. There were no standard sizes as there are today. Standard sizes are the result of modern mass-manufacturing processes. Any excess household production could be brought to town and sold or traded for other goods.

This type of economy is commonly referred to as a pure subsistence economy. In a pure subsistence economy, there is little need for marketing to facilitate exchanges , since each household produces what it consumes. However, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, businesses rather than households became the producers of many types of goods.

When the producers of products are not also the consumers of those products, exchanges must take place. Thus serious thinking about the exchange process-that is, marketing-began in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. The evolution of marketing into the most important business function in many firms was first recognized by Robert Keith , an executive at Pillsbury, and was substantiated by other business leaders at other firms. According to Keith, marketing evolved into its present-day prominence within Pillsbury during four distinct periods beginning after the simple trade era in American history.

Keith called these periods the production era, the sales era, the marketing era, and the marketing company era. The Production Era The production era is so named because many companies' main priority was the reduction of the cost of production. Companies felt that exchanges could be facilitated merely by lowering manufacturing costs and, in turn, passing along the cost savings to customers in the form of lower prices. This focus on production which lasted from just after the Civil War until the s was fueled by such milestones as Henry Ford's invention of the assembly line and the more efficient work principles advanced by Fredrick W.

Taylor's scientific management movement Haber, These two innovations made business managers aware that mass production resulted in steeply declining unit costs of production. In turn, the declining unit costs of production made profit possibilities look fabulous.

The rationale for mass production seemed sound at the time. According to Michael Porter , reduced production costs can lead to reduced selling prices, which appeal to the largest segment of customers. Unfortunately, turbulent economic conditions associated with the late s through the s caused many companies to fail even though they had adopted this production-oriented philosophy. As a result, companies looked for other ways to facilitate the exchange process.

The Sales Era The next era of marketing evolution is called the sales era because many companies' main priority was to move their products out of the factory using a variety of selling techniques. This type of thinking was initiated by the economic climate of the time. When Herbert Hoover was elected president in , the mood of the general public was one of optimism and confidence in the U. Few people had any reason to believe that prosperity would not continue.

In his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination, Hoover said: The poor-house is vanishing from among us. This was the single most devastating financial day in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. Within the first few hours that the stock market was open, prices fell so far as to wipe out all the gains that had been made in the previous year. Since the stock market was viewed as the chief indicator of the American economy, public confidence was shattered.

The amount of disposable and discretionary income that consumers had to spend on necessities and luxuries also decreased dramatically as the unemployment rate approached 25 percent.

Companies found that they could no longer sell all the products that they produced, even though prices had been lowered via mass production. Firms now had to get rid of their excess products in order to convert those products into cash. In order to get rid of products, many firms developed sales forces and relied on personal selling, advertising signs, and singing commercials on the radio to "move" the product.

Theodore Levitt , a prominent marketing scholar, has noted that these firms were not necessarily concerned with satisfying the customer, but rather with selling the product. This sales orientation dominated business practice through the s until World War II, when most firms' manufacturing facilities were adapted to making machinery and equipment for the war effort. Of course, the war dramatically changed the environment within which business was conducted.

This also changed companies' philosophies of doing business. Firms realized that they needed a set of criteria to determine which products would be manufactured and which would not, as well as a new management function that would incorporate many related functions such as procurement, advertising, and sales into one department, the marketing department.

It was also at this time that many firms realized that the company's purpose was no longer to manufacture a variety of products, but to satisfy their customers. The change in company thinking or purpose from that of manufacturing products to that of satisfying customers was truly revolutionary and had many implications. Firms that see themselves as manufacturers of products use selling techniques that are preoccupied with converting products into cash.

Firms that see themselves as marketers focus on satisfying the needs of buyers through the products that are sold, as well as all those functions associated with developing the product, delivering the product, and consuming the product. In short, selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer. Theodore Levitt has pointed out that Henry Ford's development of the assembly line illustrates the difference between firms that focus on production a production orientation and those that focus on customers a customer orientation.

Ford is widely known as a production genius for developing the assembly line. However, Ford's thinking was actually the reverse. The assembly line was the result, not the cause, of his low price. As Ford himself put it:. We first reduce the price to the point where we believe that more sales will result. Then we go ahead and try to make the prices. We do not bother about the costs. But more to the point is the fact that, although one may calculate what a cost is, and of course all of our costs are carefully calculated, no one knows what a cost ought to be.

In short, during the marketing department era, many companies changed their thinking or purpose from that of manufacturing products to that of satisfying customers. Firms with a customer orientation attempt to create satisfying products that customers will want to buy.

Beginning in the 's some firms had implemented this customer-oriented philosophy to the point where the marketing department set the agenda for the entire company.

These types of firms are referred to as marketing companies. The Marketing Company Era Firms that have moved from simply having a marketing department that follows a customer orientation to having the marketing department guide the company's direction are called marketing companies. In marketing companies, the marketing department sets company operating policy, including technical research, procurement, production, advertising, and sales. A press release from Two-Ten News Network exemplifies the strategy of a marketing-driven firm:.

Atlanta-AGCO Corporation, a leading worldwide designer, manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, today announced management appointments to strengthen and expand its global marketing and sales functions. According to Robert J.

Marketing is the key function that has been the basis of AGCO's worldwide profitable growth. AGCO's strategy is to vigorously expand our sales and marketing strength around the world while implementing aggressive reductions to manufacturing costs to adjust to industry conditions. As can be seen with AGCO, marketing is the basic motivating force for all activities within the corporation, from finance to sales to production, with the objective of satisfying the needs of the customer.

Firms that practice this philosophy of bringing all departments together with the objective of satisfying their customers are practicing the marketing concept. The marketing concept states that if all of the organization's functions are focused on customer needs, profits can be achieved by satisfying those needs. The satisfaction of customer needs can be accomplished through product changes, pricing adjustments, increased customer service, distribution changes, and the like.

Today, some firms take the marketing concept one step further by establishing long-term relationships with their customers, as discussed in the next section. The Relationship Marketing Era Relationship marketing is the process whereby a firm builds long-term satisfying relations with its customers in order to retain the customers' loyalty in buying the firm's products.

Philip Kotler , a noted author of several books on marketing, has pointed out that the need for customer retention is demonstrated by the fact that the cost of attracting a new customer is estimated to be five times the cost of keeping a current customer happy. One example of a firm that practices relationship marketing to retain customer loyalty is Saturn. Saturn has been able to retain 60 percent of their customers-meaning that 60 percent are repeat buyers. Melissa Herron explained that Saturn accomplishes relationship marketing by taking a different view of what it sells.

Traditionally, car manufacturers have sold cars, but Saturn expanded its product to include the entire experience-the shopping experience, the buying experience, and the ownership experience.

Even if its cars were no better than competitors', the company decided, the entire buying and consumption experience would be better. This philosophy is made clear in the company's values and mission statement. Saturn's values include commitment to customer enthusiasm, commitment to excel, teamwork, trust and respect to the individual, and continuous improvement.

Their mission statement also supports their relationship building philosophy:. This relationship-oriented strategy is most obvious in the company's advertising and in its pricing philosophy. For example, most car ads highlight the car's features: In Saturn ads however, the car is secondary.

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Preparation of research project: it is the last step of marketing research process. It involves the final findings, recommendations in an accurate, clear, concise and complete form. Thus, all these stages of marketing research help the researcher in the research.

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Stages in Market Research Process The market research process involves a round of separate stages of data interpretation, organization and collection. These stages could be considered as a benchmark of market research, but it depends on an organization how they have encapsulated their strategies to follow this process.

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Describe the basic steps in the marketing research process and the purpose of each step. The basic steps used to conduct marketing research are shown in Figure “Steps in the Marketing Research Process”. Step 3. Design & Prepare Your “Research Instrument” In this step of the market research process, it’s time to design your research tool. If a survey is the most appropriate tool (as determined in step 2), you’ll begin by writing your questions and .

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Some of the most essential stages of marketing research process are as follows: The process of marketing research starts with the identification of a problem. There is a realization that a marketing problem requires information to help find its solution. The marketing department asks the marketing. Research is a multi-stage and often somewhat iterative process— conclusions from one stage can create new ideas for other stages in the process, and the linkages are both forwards and backwards.