The Article is authored by Divyanshu Kumar Singh from IIM, Lucknow and is the Third prize winner of December article writing contest conducted by Marketing Bloggers.
The purpose of this article is to provide better insights and current trends happening in the world in terms of market research development. The article would provide the understanding of nature and scope of market research. The article will also discuss critical factors involved in various managerial decision problems and defining research objectives plus the methodologies used in marketing research. The aim of this paper is to focus on various techniques- qualitative as well as quantitative used in evaluating a research plan and putting in shape. This article will take practitioners’ view with an example of McDonalds in understanding the complexities involved in whole process of market research.
Since inception of mankind, marketing research has continuously been influencing each and every aspects of human life. To better understand the world, to explore the opportunities and to make an edge over competitors could not have been possible without efficient market research.
Market Research has undergone unprecedented developments during last few decades. Last two decades has experienced a drastic shift in the thought process involved in effective market research on a global basis. Several organizations emerged and succeeded due to efficient market research approach. These organizations have lived up to the expectations of consumers and satisfying their needs and wants.
Forgotten roots of Marketing Research
Looking into the annals of history, idea of marketing research was first conceptualized by Daniel Starch by the use of advertising, as an offshoot of the innovation of golden radio age in United States. Daniel emphasized that an effective advertising should be seen, read, believed, remembered, communicated and then acted upon. People started following this ideology and tried implementing in the daily life. Soon, this definition took a broader perspective in terms of decisional issues, research objectives and methods of research. Through “aided recall”, market research is defined as the ways of quenching the needs and wants of consumers and satisfying their expectations from the market.
Defining Marketing Research
“Market research is the methodology of conveying the information about the consumer to the marketer via collecting, analysing and processing information.”
Components of Market Research
Market research primarily uses three broad components to address the management decision making problems.
These three components basically constitute the foundation of market research.
Suppose McDonalds India is thinking on launching a new product line in the beverages category and improve the quality content of fast foods served to customers visiting or ordering from McDonalds. This forms the management decision problem that whether McDonalds should invest in new product line and what should be done to improve the quality content of food served. Market research objectives would include as how much sales would be generated in introducing a new product line, what would be the turnover, what consumers to target, how promotion strategy for new product line be launched, how the trade off between quality and taste should be maintained, how to gain an edge over competitors who are there in the new product line since years.
Need and Importance of Market research
Vital need of market research approach could be easily witnessed in the interaction between organization and its customers. Identifying the problems associated with customers and then putting the solution could only be possible through efficient and effective market research.
Market research has got its wide importance in current market trends and exploring the needs of customers.
- Provide better products and offerings through in-depth market research and understanding the consumer needs.
- Launching of effective market plan to optimise the research and its components.
- Explore the opportunities and gain the first mover advantage.
- Understanding reaction of customers with respect to change in the price and quality of products.
- Feedback from customers to gain an edge over competitors.
- Satisfaction level of customers with the current offerings.
- Service representatives hearing from customers.
In the example mentioned in the article, market research would be vital in capturing the insights and feedback, responses for the new product line and what changes should be introduced to improve the product and quality of food served.
Components of Market Research
Market research could help organizations with its two strands:
- Problem Identification research
- Problem Solving research
Each of these strata could be further categorized into several sub divisions which are shown below:
Under problem identification comes:
– Forecasting demand
– Sales Analysis
– Market potential
– Share analysis
Under Problem Solving comes:
– Product research
– Pricing research
– Promotion research
– Segmentation research
In the above mentioned example, McDonalds should identify the critical areas before launching new product line in any place. McDonalds should identify the potential of the market, should put some stress testing to analyse the market. McDonalds should setup price according to the purchasing power of the income group of that area.
Market Research process
After defining research problem, exploratory research could be used to gain the insights of consumers towards McDonalds fast food servicing. Causal research could be used to determine the cause and effect of changing product or price of the food item on the customer. Descriptive research through in store-surveys, test marketing, pilot test could be conducted for getting an estimate of the customer visiting McDonalds.
Hypothesis is a general assumption which could be validated after gaining the insight from consumers and checking the level of confidence in the sample analyzed. Hypothesises are checked against the alternative through various confidence level techniques and normalization process.
In our example, Hypothesis can be sales turnover would grow up with the introduction of new product line during weekends with some confidence level. Other hypothesis could be quality level would increase in production demand of McDonalds food products at global level with 99 percent confidence level.
Several Sampling techniques can be used to perform market research. Most common ones are: Simple Random sampling and stratified random sampling. Simple Random sampling involves the collection of homogeneous set of data from samples of all kinds. Stratified random sampling is the one in which stratas or groups are made which are homogeneous internally and heterogeneous with respect to other groups.
McDonalds can use stratified random sampling to focus on particular segment according to age group, according to opening of new product line in metros and rural areas.
Scaling and Measurement
Scaling and measurement could be carried out to determine the preference or propensity of the customer towards particular items of market research. Various scales such as nominal, ordinal, interval and few high precision scales Likert 5-pointer and 7-pointer scales could be used.
In order to identify and measure the response of customer towards quality content and new product line introduction, McDonalds generally uses 7-pointer Likert scale and interval scale.
Data Collection and Analysis
Various models of data collection can be deployed to collect data. Data collection in form of qualitative and collective measure can be used. Questionnaire design, face to face interviews, mall interviews, focus group assessment could be the ways of collecting data.
Data Analysis could be done through various software packages to check the level of significance and presence of outliers in the data. SPSS software, ANOVA, Chi-Square Test are the options for carrying out fine tuning of data collected.
Complete market research report should be well documented and should have addressed all the major areas related to issues.
- Cantalupo, Jim. “McDonald’s Revitalization Plan.” October 29, 2003. Accessed online on October 26, 2004 at < http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/invest/pub/revitalization.RowPar.0001.ContentPar.0001.ColumnPar.0004.File.tmp/mcd_revitalization_plan.pdf>.
- “Restaurant Management.” McDonald’s Restaurant Management Careers. Accessed online on October 27, 2004 at: http://www.mcdonalds.com/usa/work/ manage.html.
- Boyd, H.,R.Westfall, and S.Stasch (1989), Marketing research: Text and cases. Boston: Irwin
- Malhotra,N. (2004 b), Marketing Research: An applied orientation, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
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