The Market Research Theory

The Market Research Theory

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The Market Research Theory

Marketing is about responding to consumers' needs. It is very
important to find out what these needs are before a marketing plan is
put together. I am doing this theory to help other people understand
the complex tasks that businesses go through to complete their market
research.

The 4Ps and the marketing mix

The 4Ps are the ideas to consider when marketing a product. They form
the basis of the marketing mix. Getting this mix right is critical in
order to successfully market a product. The 4Ps are:

1. Product

2. Price

3. Promotion

4. Place

Product

Price

Promotion

Place

A product can be either goods or a service that is sold either to a
commercial customer or an end consumer. A customer buys a product, and
a consumer uses it. Sometimes these are one and the same, as an
industrial firm can also be a customer and a consumer.

No matter how good the product is, it is unlikely to succeed unless
the price is right. This does not just mean being cheaper than
competitors.

The main aims of promotion are to persuade, inform and make people
more aware of a brand, as well as improving sales figures. Advertising
is the most widely used form of promotion, and can be through the
media of TV, radio, journals, cinema or outdoors (billboards,
posters). The specific sections of society (market segments) being
targeted will affect the types of media chosen, as will the cost.

Distribution channels are the key to this area. A firm has to find the
most cost-effective way to get the product to the consumer.

Types of research

Market research is the collection of information or data to better
understand what is happening in the market place. A companies
marketing department needs to know about economic trends and fashions
as well as consumers' views. Based on this information, they can put
together a marketing plan, which will meet their own needs as well as

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those of their consumers.

There are two general types of research:

* Primary or field research

* Secondary or desk research

Primary or field research
Obtaining new data for a specific purpose. The marketing department of
a firm or a specialist research organisation can provide this.
Usually, the data is gathered by face-to-face interviews, by telephone
or by post, using questionnaires. This is called a survey. Sometimes
potential consumers are asked to test products, and their responses
are recorded.

Field research has the advantage that the firm itself has control over
the whole process. The disadvantages are that it takes longer, and
costs more.

Secondary or desk research
This is the use of existing data that has already been collected. It
can be anything from a company's own sales statistics to Department of
Trade and Industry reports. Other secondary sources of information
include journals, company reports, government statistics, and surveys
published by research organisations.

Traditionally, these have been paper-based, but more and more
information is now available on CD-ROM or on-line through the
Internet. Desk research has the advantages of being cheaper and
quicker than field research. The disadvantages do not know if the
findings are accurate, or how relevant they will be to your product.

The research process

Marketing departments need to have information so they can get their
marketing mix right. For example, they will want to know what similar
products already exist and how much they cost. They will also want to
know whether consumers will want to buy their new product, and what
they think about it. The process for doing this is as follows:

1. Identify a problem

2. Set objectives

3. Gather data

4. Analyse data

Identify the problem:
Make sure you know what you are trying to find out, and how it will
help you. This is something that people sometimes forget. There is an
endless amount of information available, so it is important to be
focused.

Set objectives:
You have to decide which are going to be the best ways to gather this
information. Choose the most appropriate reports and journals.
Depending on how much time you have, choose what field research you
can do. Designing questionnaires and testing products on consumers can
take a long time. You also have to decide whether you have the
necessary skills, or whether you need to use a specialist research
organisation. This is a more expensive option.

Gather data:
You would usually do desk research first, because it is cheaper and
quicker. Then supplement this with field research, so that you don't
copy your findings. Designing the questionnaires and conducting the
surveys takes place during this phase.

Analyse data:
Now that you have the findings, you have to work out what they are
telling you. If you identified your objectives before you started,
this should not be too difficult. You must look for trends and
patterns. Then you should see how this affects your marketing mix.
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