What is Marketing Research?
Marketing research is a process of collecting and analyzing data used to identify marketing opportunities and problems associated with products and services. It allows researchers to assess marketing mix elements (the Four Ps - product, price, place, promotion) and their impact on customer behavior by designing methods for collecting and managing quantitative and qualitative data. According to the American Marketing Association (2017),
“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 method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.”
Marketing Research Benefits
Marketing research brings numerous benefits to businesses and ensures their longevity and success. Here are some of the advantages:
Lets the companies keep in touch with the latest trends
It offers businesses the opportunity to follow the trends, gather information on the customer demand, and examine strategies used by the competitors.
Without having proper marketing research, most companies are destined to survive less than their rivals. With a lack of marketing research, it is a question of time a company ceases to exist.
Collecting information on customer preferences, their opinions on the product and service prices enables the companies to implement adequate policies to reduce customer complaints and increase revenues.
Finds best promotion and distribution channels
It is essential to promote the products through the right channels. Otherwise, effort and money invested in product marketing will not yield any results. The research also helps to establish a suitable distribution channel.
Steps in Marketing Research
The steps in conducting marketing research may vary on different occasions, but it comes down to the five most common:
Identifying the problem or objective
Each marketing research starts with this first step, and the success of the entire research depends upon it. “Half-baked” ideas on the possible problems may not take the research in the right direction and waste your resources - time, energy, and money. So having a clear definition of the problem is essential before moving on to the next phases of the research. Researchers generate preliminary questions about the objectives of the research at this stage.
Research plan development and sampling
This stage involves deciding whether to use primary or secondary research methods. That depends on the budget and the deadline for the research project, and where the research will take place. Primary research methods include observations, focus groups, interviews, surveys, while secondary data sources are books, journals, websites, and government records, among other things.
Sampling is about determining the target population and finding individuals that represent that population.
After the research plan is ready, and the target audience is identified, the next stage in the marketing research is information collection. This phase is often the most costly and time-consuming part of the research because it requires gathering data from tens or even hundreds of participants. It demands traveling between locations, conducting in-person or group interviews, observing the phenomena, checking customer reviews, and researching secondary data sources.
Here, researchers start to process and analyze the data they collected in the previous stage. One of the techniques they use for that purpose is coding. Coding enables them to organize the data and give it a structure, making it easier to find patterns. While it can be done manually, tools available in the market are of great help in analyzing a large amount of data.
Drawing conclusion and reporting
Analyzing data and finding recurring trends allows the researchers to come to a conclusion on the result of the research. The final report should be precise, accurate, and free of information not relevant to the research. They announce the findings through a press release, social media, websites, papers, books, etc.