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The important decision making related to market strategy and other tasks related to marketing depends on findings or marketing research. Marketing research process reduces the chances of errors, miss conceptions and uncertainty from decision making process. It is therefore very important to conduct marketing research to identify any changes in market environment, and understand customers and market. It means that this is the process of strategically importance.
Marketing Research Process can be defined as the scientific systematical process that includes the steps of problem definition, data collection, analysis and reporting of data and findings about certain issue if problem face by that organization. Kotler, et al (2007)
While according to "American marketing Association" it is process of systematic gathering, collecting and analysing data related to marketing problems in order to help organization.
Market research projects are partially depends on market research process that involves systematic stage wise steps that usually starts from conceiving, analysis on basis of data collected and ends with recommendation and suggested action. It provides the systematic and well planned way of researching the market and offering solution based on different research activities conducted as part of process. This systematic approach ensures that research design and implementation remained consistent with predefined research objectives and purpose.Malhotra,(2005) In the case research design and implementation doesn't consistent with main purpose of research it is not that much helpful for the organization or end up with out answering the research problem. The findings concluded as research of research process may be positive or negative while negative findings are as much as valuable as positive. In many cases negative findings helps in revealing lot of valuable information. Charles,(2005)
Overview of Marketing Research Process:-
As discussed earlier Marketing Research process involves step by step approach where each step is meant to answer particular question. Kotler et al,(2007)
Why there is need to conduct the research. it describes the purpose of research in accordance with view of management needs marketing research report for decision making purposes. This first process requires in depth understanding of the decisions required to be made and problems needs to be addressed.
What research needs to conduct? At this stage the main purpose of research is developed into objectives of research that tells the research team the objectives to be achieved and research questions to be answered. At this stage it is also analysed that If the research is worth conducting or not on the basis of the costs of research as costs of research should not be greater than
How research objectives can be achieved? This step deals with research design developed in order to achieve objectives of research. It also includes research approach adopted and particular research tools selected to conduct the research.
How research will be concluded? This step represents the tools and methods used to analyse collected data,. This step interprets data into recommendations and conclusion. That ultimately answers the research question.
As shown in the figure above the earliest decisions are mad eon the basis of earliest process that step by step develop into other stages on the basis of approach and methodology adopted and the way research conducted. All the steps depend on each other and doesn't work with out each other.
Stages of MARKETING RESEARCH PROCESS
Stage 1 Research Purpose;-
The first step in the process of market research is to define research purpose. Research purpose is usually not very well defined or fully understood. The process of fully and accurately defining and understanding research purpose always require efforts The accurately defined research purpose is based on some data and judgement. The usually purpose of conducting market research is related to analysis of business problem, opportunities and other issue that can affect business. it is also said that a problem is half solved if it is well defined and understood in accurate way. Malhotra,(2005)
The research purpose is usually developed as result of recognizing and understanding problem. This problem is usually generated by realization of gap between expected out come and the out come in reality. In other word it the difference or gap between objectives and the results achieved against those objectives. The problem is recognized in the basis of three factors. That includes some thing according to wishes or expected and what was happened or achieved while the difference between these two is the problem is and this difference or gap between two defines problem area. Charles,(2005)
It is also important to define purpose of problem that where that problem occurred. The problem definition is the point on which the whole structure is formed and it can be best described as the first point that can be achieved.
Research purpose usually includes few activities with shared understanding of research team and management.
Opportunity and Problem analysis
Alternative Decisions Analysis
These all tasks have been discussed here as follows
Problem or Opportunity analysis:-
As discussed earlier problem or opportunity is main thing that motivates. For example declining sales in any organization can be problem requiring research to analyse its causes and reasons. For example people easting less ice cream can be problem as well as an opportunity at same time require further research in order to over come that problem or exploit opportunities that can increase sales and earn more revenues. The first activity is identification and understanding of problem or opportunity of strategic interest requiring attention of management. The defining and identification problem and needs analysis of opportunity and problem. While this is the first sub of marketing research process. in the context of situation analysis of market first of exploratory research is required in order to identify opportunities and problems.
For example where sales of an organization are not showing satisfactory performance and there is need to analyze the identification of the factors that's affecting the sale performance. In other case if there is need to correctly identify segments of customer that can be target market for future customer. Charles,(2005)
(b)Decision Alternative Analysis:-
The effective and well managed research process is always associated with some sort of decision. in other words if research has ultimately no effect or has its part to play in decision making process then the research is useless .
Researchers always needs to make in case of no decision alternative means no decisions and if decision does not has an impact on decisions sue constraints and circumstances then it is the exercise of no value.
Research needs to give answer to alternative decisions for consideration and different feasible solutions of the problem should always be derived from research. this will definitely increase the effectiveness of research, Decisions made can be very specific and copy test can be conducted in order to select alternative while in other case decision can be general.
Researcher can get help from choosing between decision alternative through making criteria for example in case of product designs management has to choose from different alternatives. The decision can made on the basis of some criteria like long term sales, differentiating of different packages, reorganization of brand etc
Research team and management needs to decide the criteria to choose from alternatives in advance. It is because the criteria to choose for alternative decision have effects on the type of criterion chosen.. Together with all decision making process it is also important to analysis the impacts of pressure of time on decision process. If new government legislations are expected in near future and research information that may be needed quickly before that legislations in order to analyse the impacts.
Research Decision makers
Researcher team needs to know the objectives and expectations of decision makers. It is complex task to analyse and expectations of decision makers will be using that research. This task becomes more complex in case of bigger problems as interpreting complex problem is also complex task. Getting in touch with decision maker to discuss problem statement will help in creating accurate decision makers.
Step 2 Research Objectives:-
Research objective is precise statement about required information. It interprets problem statement more precisely and in more understandable manner. Research objectives are designed in such a way that task of finding required information fully serve the research purpose. Research objective is very important part of research design as it is said if you don't have any idea of what you need and what exactly you are looking for then it will not be possible to find it.
Research objectives have three essential parts.
The research question describes information required by management responsible for decision making. Research question represents the information needs to obtained according to research purpose. Therefore in case of research question is answered then it should be helpful for the decision makers in decision making process for which this research is conducted. For example a cosmetic company planning to buy a relatively small firm. One of the main benefits of this take over for cosmetic company is elimination of one competitor in few product lines. The one of the main research question needs marketing research may be weather current sales force of this company may be used to take extra burden of distribution of that acquired company as well. The research objective was to find out level of overlapping between two organizations. There were some preliminary information or suggestion could be used to help form research question. The research later found evidence of little overlapping because of difference in geographical difference between major market segments of two companies. There is possibility of many research questions that may serve one research purpose. For example in case an organization needs to know weather or not the type of advertisement campaign should run on specific times the research questions could be (a) how advertisement will effect customers behaviour(b)will this advertisement is effective enough to be get notice from public. Kotler et al,(2007)
Hypothesis is researcher's view of possible answer to a research question. The Researcher may create possible outcome of research question in advance and conduct research to answer weather that hypothesis created at start of research was correct or not. Therefore already known hypothesis has possibility to become reality as result of research. Hence by doing these already known answers becomes reality. Kurtz et al,(2009)
For example a hypothesis can be created in an organization about decling sales in some parts of countries. It may be possibly due to increasing competition in thoese areas due introduction of new similar kind of products of same kind by competitors together with advertising campaign. And this atetemnet can be hypothesis required market research to verify that hypothesis. Such hypothesis ensures well focused research. If the results of hypothesis validates the hypothesis then it becomes evident that hypothesis was correct while it can be used in decision making process by decision makers possibly resulting in developing new strategy to sell its products in those parts of country. In Many cases there can be multiple competing hypotheses and one of the research objectives can be to choose from best and accurate hypothesis in accordance with research problem.
Scope of Research
As discussed in previous section hypothesis development helps keeping research process more precise and well focused to serve research purpose. Another important element of the research is indicating research boundaries or research limitations. It also helps research to be well focused in the terms that only well targeted and meaningful research can be conducted. for example is young population more attracted to apple IPhone or is the interest in specific brand is restricted to mens only and particular segment of population. Research team always consult decision makers in order to accurately define research limitations and boundaries. Scope of the research can be related to specific gender, age, time limitations and product or market specific etc. Kotler, et al (2007)
The agreed scope of research questions and objectives in compliance with accuracy of results. This is all based on research purpose. For example in case of million dollars of investment it becomes more and more important to maintain highest level accuracy define research and research scope in order to accurately invest money in right way. In case of small scale research involve less amount like decisions related to some products, or idea doesn't need that much high level of accuracy as it can definitely gives some or more idea to decision makers to get clue about potential causes and reasons of particular problem.
Step 3 :- Estimating the Value of Research information:-
After defining research purpose, objectives and scope it is also very important to estimate value of information required or the value of research problem that will possibly be answered in research question. In other words it is to analyse weather the research is worth any financial gain for company. It also helps to determine the budget that could be spent on conducting that research
The information value is estimated in accordance with its importance as described in research purpose. In case research of significant value for example about investment decisions has higher information value. In case research with higher value it should continue otherwise research may be decided not to proceed.
Step 4 :- Research Design
Research design is overall structure or framework of research that is developed in order to conduct research. Research designs describe necessary details of approaches and procedure selected in order to conduct the research.(Kurtz et al,2009) Research design includes exploratory research, variable definition, scaling for measurement. Research design also describe the tools will be utilized. it also includes questionnaire design, sampling and selection of respondent segments .
Research design may includes following tasks (Malhotra, 2002)
Primary and Secondary Data analysis
Qualitative or Quantitative research Approach
(iii) Process of, Questionnaire designing, Sampling and sampling size
Primary and Secondary Data analysis:-
First and most important task of research design is to choose weather what kind of data analysis is required. There are two types of data analysis Primary data is data that research needs to collect by him self more specific to related to research conducted Primary data is usually conducted through questionnaire surveys, interviews, and focus groups etc. it is first hand information and depends on the abilities of researcher team to collect it in accordance with research purpose. (Baker & Hart, 2003).Secondary data is not first hand data as primary research it is the data already available like journals, books, articles, company records etc. the research team does not need to find data by them self while they can utilize already available data for their research purposes.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research :-
After selecting type of data required for research. in case of research required to collect his own data or new data in order to conduct his research. Research can be through quantitative or qualitative or both depend on the choice of researcher. Qualitative data research usually means quantifiable data that can be some how measured in numbers for example questions are posed in such a way that respondents answers them in level its importance or satisfaction in numbers from 1 to 5 where 1 represents higher degree and 5 represents lower degree or vice versa. While qualitative research can not be directly measure din numbers for example results or answers gathered from interviews is an example of qualitative research. Both have their own importance and used according to research requirements.
Process of questionnaires designing, sampling and sampling size
Research questionnaire is designed in order to gather information from respondents in both ways quantitative and qualitative research. There are many different types of questionnaire style that can used such as likert style questions, demographic style etc. Sampling is selection of population of respondents that will be targeted to be utilised in survey. Sampling can be of two types of sampling probability and non probability sampling. It is very important to accurately choose type and size of sampling in order to accurately conceive results of research. Type and size of research depends on researcher although it should represent the whole population.
Step 5:- Data Collection
After preparing questionnaire the next task is to practically get into filed and distribute questionnaires among respondents. It can also be done through on line surveys, phone conversations, face to face interviews, and by post. In larger scale marketing research full dedicated field team or person may be required in order to conduct research surveys or interviews and gather data. A well trained filed team can help in reducing chances of errors in data collection.(Baker & Hart,2003)
Step 6:- Data Analysis
After collection of data it is then processed to derived results in order to convert them in conclusion, data analysis can be conducted with two methods manual or computer based data analysis. There can be different types of mathematical formulas can be applied on data that is collected from questionnaires. it can also be checked for accuracy and validity. There are many computer software that can be used in order to conduct data analysis for example, MS excel and SPSS is example of data analysis software.
Step 7 :- Reporting Results and Presentation
The Last and final part of research process is to document whole project findings and write report that answers that specific research question that was identified at start of research. Research report also includes research approach adopted, design, collection and analysis of data together with all findings of data. This report should be in the form to be ready for decision makers to be used in decision maker process. Together with all report presentation should also be conducted with relevant figures, graphs and results etc.(Charles,2005)