Determining how to collect useful marketing research data is often as important as actually collecting the data - step 3 in the process, which is discussed later. Two key elements in deciding how to collect the data are (1) concepts and (2) methods.
Concepts In the world of marketing, concepts are ideas about products or services. To find out about consumer reaction to a potential new product, marketing researchers frequently develop a new-product concept, that is, a picture or verbal description of a product or service the firm might offer for sale. For example, with the Chatter Telephone, Fisher-Price managers developed a new-product concept that involved adding a noisemaker, wheels, and eyes to the basic design, which would make the toy more fun for children and increase sales.
Methods Methods are the approaches that can be used to collect data to solve all or part of a problem. For example, if you are the marketing researcher at Fisher- Price responsible for the Chatter Telephone, you face a number of methods issues in developing your research plan, including the following:
• Can we actually ask three- or four-year-olds meaningful questions they can answer about their liking or disliking of the two designs?
• Are we better off not asking them questions but simply observing their behavior?
• If we simply observe the children’s behavior, how can we do this in a way to get the best information without biasing the results?
Millions of other people have asked similar questions about millions of other products and services. How can you find and use the methodologies that other marketing researchers have found successful? Information on useful methods is available in tradebooks, textbooks, and handbooks that relate to marketing and marketing research. Some periodicals and technical journals, such as the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Marketing Research published by the American Marketing Association, summarize methods and techniques valuable in addressing marketing problems. Special methods vital to marketing are (1) sampling and (2) statistical inference.
Marketing researchers often select a group of distributors, customers, or prospects, ask them questions, and treat their answers as typical of all those in whom they are interested. There are two ways of sampling, or selecting representative elements from a population: probability and nonprobability sampling. Probability sampling involves using precise rules to select the sample such that each element of the population has a specific known chance of being selected. For example, if a college wants to know how last year’s 1,000 graduates are doing, it can put their names in a bowl and randomly select 50 names to contact. The chance of being selected - 50/1,000, or 0.05 - is known in advance, and all graduates have an equal chance of being contacted. This procedure helps select a sample (the 50 graduates) that is representative of the entire population (the 1,000 graduates) and allows conclusions to be drawn about the entire population.
When time and budget are limited, researchers may opt for nonprobability sampling and use arbitrary judgments to select the sample so that the chance of selecting a particular element may be unknown or 0. If the college decides to select the 50 graduates from last year’s class who live closest to the college, many members of the class have been arbitrarily excluded. This has introduced a bias that makes it dangerous to draw conclusions about the population from this geographically restricted sample.
The method of statistical inference involves drawing conclusions about a population (the “universe” of all people, stores, or salespeople about which researchers wish to generalize) from a sample (some elements of the universe) taken from that population. To draw accurate inferences about the population, the sample elements should be representative of that universe. If the sample is not typical, bias can be introduced, resulting in bad marketing decisions.
1. What are the three kinds of marketing research?
2. What does constraints mean?
3. What is the difference between concepts and methods?
STEP 3: COLLECT RELEVANT INFORMATION
Collecting enough relevant information to make a rational, informed marketing decision sometimes simply means using your knowledge to decide immediately. At other times it entails collecting an enormous amount of information at great expense. Data, the facts and figures related to the problem, are divided into two main parts: secondary data and primary data. Secondary data are facts and figures that have already been recorded before the project at hand, whereas primary data are facts and figures that are newly collected for the project.
Figure 3 shows how the different kinds of marketing information fit together.
Types of marketing information
Secondary data are divided into two parts - internal and external secondary data - depending on whether the data come from inside or outside the organization needing the research.