For any business to be successfully, business owners and entrepreneurs need to carry out research and get information that will help them be in a position to steer the business to success. Research will enable business owners and managers to know the opportunities and problems that their business might be facing.
One of the issues that make business to fail is when managers undertake poor marketing. In marketing, a manager should not assume to know what the customer wants, when the customer needs that commodity, and at what place. Therefore, to be sure of how to meet customer requirements, marketing managers should carry out marketing research.
This study paper outlines the importance of marketing research and process that marketing manager can use to find out information on how to meet the actual needs of the customers.
Marketing research is not only an important undertaking to large business organizations, but also to smaller businesses. Marketing research can help the manager to acquire information about competitors and customers, especially if the business is undergoing losses (Zikmund, N.d). In such a case, carrying out marketing research will enable the business to redirect marketing effort so as to make profits.
Marketing research can be through surveys, census data and customer observation. Therefore, the basic marketing researches are quantitative and qualitative techniques.
In quantitative research, a manager will be able to answer questions of ‘how much’ or ‘how many’ while in qualitative techniques the manager will be able to address the questions ‘why ‘ or ‘how.’ Quantitative research involves surveys while qualitative research can be through observing customers’ behavior or through having unstructured conversations with the customers.
Importance of marketing research
Marketing research analyses are concerned with the potential sale of a product or service in future (US department of labor, 2006). Data concerning competitors, prices, sales as well as distribution channels helps the manager to plan for future sales. There are various means, which the marketing research analysis can use to gather information. These include telephone, mail or Internet surveys. Other methods are door-to-door interviews using questionnaires or having focus discussions groups.
Marketing managers to make decisions concerning promotions can use marketing research information, distribution and if there are any chances of success if a new product line is added to the organization’s commodities. Furthermore, it is through marketing research that development of advertising brochures and commercials can take place and determining how to undertake promotions and other sales plans.
Research information on marketing is also very useful to the manager when making fiscal or policy decisions. The decisions’ effectiveness and the customer satisfaction can as well be measured by the use of marketing survey.
There are also a lot of uncertainties in the market that can be caused by many factors, among them being price fluctuations. Therefore, a well-carried market research can avoid such uncertainties that can occur in the organization, or giving the management an option on how to cushion the organization against problems that can be caused because of such fluctuations.
The process for quantitative marketing research.
For a manager to come up with information that can help in marketing decision marking, research has to be done in s systematic manner so as to get the correct useful information. Therefore, the following are steps that a research can follow to come up with good information (Polaris Marketing Research, N.d).
Step 1: Definition of purpose and objectives of the research work.
A well-defined purpose and objectives of research work can help the researcher avoid coming up with irrelevant information. This is because the purpose and objective statements will act as guiding principles for gathering required information. For instance, the marketing manager may want to know why the customers are shifting their loyalty to other brands. In this case, the purpose of the study may be stated as: “The purpose of this study is to identify factors that have caused the customers to shift loyalty to other brands”. Therefore the purpose of this study will relate to the actual problems in the organization. In addition to this study problem the specific objectives should be developed, for instance;
- The study wants to establish what actually attracts the customers to the other brands.
- To establish how these customers get to know of the other brands.
The problem that can be associated with this process is when identifying the actual problem in the organization, or coming up with the real purpose of the study. To avoid this happening other stakeholders should be involved in try to look out what could be the problem that needs to be addressed before leaving the matter to the researchers.
Step 2. Determining the source of Data.
The sources of data are usually primary data and secondary data. Primary data is the work that is done by the researcher by carrying out survey and interviews and finally come up with conclusions and recommendation on how to go about solving the problem identified in research work.
In secondary data, the researcher consults other works that have already been done that are related to the subject of study. Secondary study is very helpful in research work but it does not always give conclusive results. Therefore, if secondary research fails to give the required information, the primary research has to be conducted. Furthermore, the secondary data acts a foundation and guidance for primary research work.
The problem that can be experienced in this process is when using secondary data that might have been wrongfully concluded. This could be as a result of wrong procedures that were undertaken in coming up with the data or even wrong analysis of data. To be at a better position, secondary data used not solely be used as a means of following to make marketing decision but a primary survey should follow, whereby secondary data only acted as a guideline
Step 3: Data collection instruments.
The researcher at this stage needs to develop the data collection instrument to be used for collection of primary data. A good data collection instrument for primary data collection is the questionnaire. Questions in the questionnaires must revolve around the purpose and objectives of the research work.
A good questionnaire should be divided into three parts; the first part calls for cooperation from the responded, while the second part has classification questions (Snepenger 1997). The classification questions classify respondent in terms of age, sex, income or any means that the researcher would like to classify them. Furthermore a good questionnaire should be:
- Relevant – all the questions should be related to the study topic and be viewed by both researcher and respondent as relevant because respondents tend to avoid questions they feel are irrelevant.
- Brevity – questions should be brief and precise to avoid taking a lot of time of the respondent as this might make them answer questions anyhow as long as they are through.
- Objectivity – questions should not be framed in a manner that will lead the respondent to a particular answer.
- Non-ambiguity – questions should be expressed clearly and words that are unfamiliar should also be avoided so as not to give the responded hard time in trying to understand such terms before answering the questions.
- Specifity – some questions might need information that needs specific knowledge from the respondent. Such questions should be avoided because some respondents might just answer such questions to avoid looking ignorant, though they might be wrong.
- Vocabulary – the study questions should avoid terms and language that cannot be easily understood by the respondent.
- Questions type – in this case the researcher will decide whether to use open-ended questions or closed questions.
Open-ended questions are useful in cases where the researcher does not want to influence the answers given by the respondent.
Closed ended questions on the other hand are aided by definitions, because possible answers are provided. The answer might be known prior to data collection, but only differing in the frequency of answers given (Snepenger 1997).
The problem at this stage is determining how effective are the tools of carrying out the research work. The researcher can use tools and methods that are defective and in the end come up with wrong results. To be precise that the right thing is being undertaken, it is advisable to do a pilot research. Pilot research can be undertaken before the real research so as to determine the feasibility of the study. The pilot research should be done on people who have similarities with the actual respondent targeted i.e. in terms of age, sex, education, and any other characteristics that might influence the out come on the quality and quantity of information to be collected. The pilot study should be conducted in the exact manner that the researcher intends to carry out the real research so that any problems that are detected can be adjusted immediately.
Step 4: Sample Size Design
The researcher should not only aim for the quality of respondents, but it has to be representative.
The problem to the researcher is determining the exact sample size required and how the respondents will be chosen from the sample size. A good sample size should be randomly chosen among all the customers of the organization. Representatives sampling will avoid biasness and give quality research work.
Step 5: Data Collection
After the pilot study and making any adjustment, the real work is to collect data. Data collection entails supervising interviewers so as to make sure that they adhere to the sampling design. This is because at a time, interviewers might just find it convenient to include respondents outside the sample design. Further more, interviewers might ask questions incorrectly or in a manner that might elicit biasness. The manager should henceforth try to avoid this happening. To make sure that the interviewers are doing the right thing, the supervisor should develop a means of follow up so that to correct any mistakes at the initial stage.
Step 6: Data analysis
Data analysis involves getting the answers of all respondents and encoding them into the computer and getting the frequency tables and distributors. This can as well be done manually but it is very tedious. The most frequent or average responses might provide additional insights to the research work. This research work has to be summarized in a way that will provide an over view of the survey information to the marketing manager.
Analysis should also include cross sectional tabulation of analysis. For instance how did the male respond to the same questions as compared to the female response? How did the different age groups respond to the same questions?
The analysis can go as far as testing some statistical tests such as the chi – test and the t-test.
Analysis might give wrong information if the analyst does not use the right tool of analysis. For instance, if the testing of the statistical data is done in a wrong way, like using chi-square where t-test is supposed to apply, the results from this will not be accurate even though the raw data was right. Therefore, the analyst should completely understand all the analytical tools and where they apply at all times.
Step 7: Report Presentation
The final report should have a summery of all the result of the project and the steps undertaken in the reaching to the conclusion. The report should have specification of the implication of the findings. Statistical tables in the presentation work can show the sales pattern within a certain period, among different age groups and sex.
The result presentation should not be coiled in any way to fit certain objectives. They need to be exactly as the analysis has found out so that the correct steps can be taken.
Step 8: Take Action
The purpose of undertaking research is to find out the means that can be used to improve decision-making in the managerial part. Therefore, the marketing manager should be able to establish an appropriate means to be used in carrying out the specified recommendations to improve efficiency in the organization.
This stage is also tricky if especially some of the recommendations made in the report seem not to favor some individuals’ way of doing things. Therefore, if a marketing manager goes against the proposals that have been provided within the research project, it is likely that the organization will face mare problems and might give room for the competitors to take control of the market.
Ethical Consideration in Research Work
The marketing researcher acts as an intermediary between the producer and the customers at the market place (Fodness, 2000). Therefore, researcher facilitates the flow of information between the customer at the market and the producer of the commodity. This relationship between these players can lead to rise of conflict of interest between them, amounting to ethical problem.
Ethical consideration is high especially in cases where the researcher is involved in interaction with the respondent. The interaction of the respondent may harm the researcher (though might be unintentional) in certain ways (Polonski 2004). This may include psychological harm, financial harm and social harm. It is therefore important that the researcher is able to establish if there might be any likelihood of occurrence of any harm in the research work and be able to avoid it.
Some of the ethical issues to be considered in carrying out research work include:
- Voluntary participation – the respondent should be interviewed willingly and any form of coercion or deception should be avoided. Some respondents seek to have anonymity and confidentiality. Therefore, a research work should be in such a way that it does not force the respondent to give his/her background information, which make the respondent uneasy.
- Informed consent – participants in the research should be made aware of the research work and should be able to understand what they are being asked to do, and if there are any negative consequences by participating in the research or what are the benefits of them participating in the research.
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