Critical Analysis: Marketing Research Approaches
Marketing research approaches are usually complex and long-term investment involving commitment of not only financial but also other valuable resources, including personnel, facilities and time. These aim at the creation or improvement of new products to meet certain needs and objectives of the investor. All such decisions necessarily entail some risk due to their future orientation. The risk may arise from miscalculate resources, from cost- and time- overruns, setting up of non-viable units, or building up excessive capacities.
Marketing research (MR) is concerned with all aspects of marketing, relating to product design and development, product-mix, pricing, packaging, branding, sales, distribution, competition, target customer segments and their buying behavior, advertising and its impact. Specifically, the scope of MR includes customers, products, distribution, advertising, competitive information and macro-level phenomenon.
i) Marketing is concerned with identifying and fulfilling customer needs and wants. Thus, MR should precede marketing. The unfulfilled wants should first be identified and translated into technically and economically feasible product ideas, which then should be marketed to the customers.
ii) The second area which is of direct concern for MR is product and product design. MR is helpful in determining the final design of the product and its physical attributes of color, size, shape, packaging, and brand name. It is useful in arriving at the right combination of product mix, the number of variations of the basic product, accessories and attachments
iii) Marketing research helps in discovering what types of distribution channels and retail outlets are most profitable for your product. On the basis of comparative information for different channels and different types of outlets one can choose the combination most suitable for your product.
iii) Marketing research can provide information on the most cost-effective media help determine the advertising budget, measure the effectiveness of specific advertisements; advertising campaigns and the entire advertising strategy.
iv) Marketing research is being increasingly used at the macro-level. If the objectives of the project is not in tune with the prevailing consumer tastes, attitudes and values, the entire amount may prove to be a total waste. Organization needs MR to monitor the efficacy of its strategy in achieving the objectives.
Hence, this study would like to test the hypothesis that: The magnitude of risks can be reduced considerably by following a rational procedure in marketing research which a) a sufficiently large number of good-quality alternatives, whether mutually exclusive or otherwise, is generated for consideration, b) reliable and adequate information is gathered about each alternative including its sub-options, and c) the sub-options and the alternatives are subjected to systematic and objective evaluation in relation to technical, economic, financial, and other pertinent parameters for selection of the best course of action.
Marketing research is undertaken to improve the understanding about a marketing situation or problem and consequently improve the quality of decision-making related to it. The usefulness of the marketing research output will depend upon the way the research has been designed and implemented at each stage of the process. There are five steps in every marketing research process:
• Problem definition
• Research design
• Field work
• Data analysis
• Report presentation and implementation
i) Problem Definition: A problem is any situation which requires further investigations. Some problems faced by marketing managers are such that they can be handled on the basis of past experience. Such decisions can only be made if the manager has been in the line for at least a couple of years. Decisions made on judgment may not always turn out to be correct, but the problem may not be important enough to justify substantial time, money and effort to be spent on solving it. But when the problem is critical, spending resources to initiate formal marketing research is warranted.
ii) Research Design: If the company has stated the problem correctly and precisely, one should be able to spell out the precise objectives for research. The research design spells out how one is going to achieve the stated research objectives. The data collection methods, the specific research instrument and the sampling plan that one will use for collecting data and the corresponding cost are the elements that constitute the research design.
iii) Field Work: This is the stage where the research design has to be converted from the planning stage to that of implementation. To achieve the stated research objectives data has to be collected. This data collection is known as field work. The two stages in field work are planning and supervision.
Planning: It has to be planned how many people will be assigned to the field, what will be their geographical areas of coverage; how many days will be required for the entire operation and what is the pattern to be used for choosing sample units.
Supervision: Supervision is an extremely important input to ensure that the data collected is genuine and accurate. Most field work is carried out by a team of field surveyors, and each team is assigned to a supervisor. The team members would plan their daily area of field work and sort out the problems they have faced.
iv) Data Analysis: After the data has been collected, one need to process, organize and arrange it in a format that makes it easy to understand and directly helps the decision making process. Raw data has to be processed and analyzed to obtain information. There are three phases for analyzing the data:
a) Classifying the raw data in a more orderly manner;
b) Summarizing the data;
c) Applying analytical methods to manipulate the data to highlight their inter-relationship and quantitative significance.
v) Report Presentation and Implementation: The final step is the preparation, presentation and implementation of a report giving the major findings and recommendations. A typical format of the report may comprise of the following sections:
a) Objectives and methodology in which the research objectives are stated and details of the sampling plan are described.
b) Summary of conclusions and recommendations in which the main findings of the research are highlighted. On the basis of the findings, some recommendations may be made.
c) Sample and its characteristics which contains descriptions of the sampling units in terms of their geographical location, socio-economic profile and other relevant details.
d) Detailed findings and observations in which the data which has collected is presented in a form which is easily comprehensible to the user. The data may be presented in tabular form or graphically in a bar chart, pictogram or pie diagram; or in a combination of all these.
e) Questionnaire and supporting research instruments are presented in the last section.
Marketing Effort- General Role of Marketing
Marketing is relevant to growth provided it is viewed as a total business effort. The first and foremost role is that it stimulates potential aggregate demand and thus enlarges the size of the market. Through stimulation of demand, people are motivated to work harder and earn additional money to buy the various ideas, goods and services being marketed. An additional advantage which accrues in the above context is that it accelerates the process of monetizing the economy which in turn facilitates the transfer of investible resources and marketing is a multiplier of managers and entrepreneurs.
Still another important contribution which marketing makes is that it helps in sustaining and improving the existing levels of employment.
Research and experience in the market place have indicated that a marketer should treat the product as a ‘bundle of satisfaction’ offered to consumers rather than as a physical item. This is so because consumers really seek satisfaction of their needs and desires rather than physical products.
Generally, the company may consider the following factors in setting prices:
• Target customers: how much they will buy at various prices, price elasticity of demand.
• Cost: how much it costs to produce and market the product. i.e., both production and distribution costs.
• Competition: severe competition may indicate a lower price than when there is monopoly or little competition.
• Social responsibility: pricing affects many parties, including employees, shareholders.
Different varieties of the product may have varying prices, e.g., a higher model with advanced features may be priced higher than a very basic model. Similarly, there are other factors which the manufacturer has to consider like the granting of discounts and allowances or location of the customer in determining prices.
Promotional Activities –
Promotional activities consist of various means of communicating persuasively with the target audience. The important promotional methods are:
• Advertising — to transmit messages to target consumers.
• Personal selling where sales representatives employed by the firm engage in interpersonal communications with individual consumers and prospective customers.
• Sales promotion where the company utilizes displays, demonstrations or similar devices to supplement advertising and personal selling.
• Publicity and public relations — where both publicity and public relations are used to stimulate supportive news items about the firm and its products that have greater credibility with the public than advertising.
The general role of publicity is similar to advertising, but public relations (PR) usually addresses itself to a wider public than the firm’s customers. The press release, news conference and the offer of some exclusive feature are typical ways of seeking publicity.
The promotion mix is the particular combination of advertising, personal selling and sales promotion that is used in communicating with consumers. Generally, advertising is employed to reach large groups of consumers at a low price per contact. Personal selling has a higher cost per contact, but is an intense form of communication — consumers usually find it more difficult to ignore or refute the arguments of a sales person than the persuasive appeals of an advertisement.
Promotion should be aimed at the target audience rather than at consumers at large Failure to consider the unique characteristics of the target consumer can result in ineffective promotional efforts.
Marketing research is a complex and long-term investment involving commitment of not only financial but also other valuable resources, including personnel, facilities and time. These aim at the creation or improvement of new products to meet certain needs and objectives of the investor. All such decisions necessarily entail some risk due to their future orientation. The risk may arise from miscalculate resources, from cost and time- overruns, setting up of non-viable units, or building up excessive capacities. Magnitude of this risk can be reduced considerably by following a rational procedure.
Most industrial and commercial projects require large outlays and are highly involved on account of geographical, technological, economic, environmental, legal and other factors including trans-national dealings. Once resources are committed to them, it is rather difficult to retract without suffering large losses. It is, therefore, important that project decisions are taken after much careful consideration, so that the scarce resources are utilized in the most effective and economic manner.
As mentioned, the crucial marketing task in a mass-market penetration strategy is to maximize the number of customers adopting the company’s new product as quickly as possible. This requires a marketing program focused on (1) aggressively building product awareness and motivation to buy among a broad cross-section of potential customers and (2) making it as easy as possible for those customers to try the new product, on the assumption that they will try it, like it, develop loyalty, and make repeat purchases.
There are a number of marketing activities that might help increase customers’ awareness and willingness to buy or improve their ability to try the product. This is by no means an exhaustive list; nor do it imply that a successful company must necessarily engage in all of the listed activities. Marketing managers must develop programs combining activities that fit both the objectives of a mass-market penetration strategy and the specific market and potential competitive conditions the new product faces.
1. Harold Kerzner and Hans Thamhain (1995) Project Management for Large Businesses, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. New York
2. Ludwig, Ernest E. (1984) Applied Project Management , Gulf Publishing Co., Houston
3. Franked, Ernest G. (1994) Project Management In Engineering Services, Butterworths, London
4. Nicholas, J.M., (1988) Managing Business and Engineering Projects: Concepts and Implementation, Prentice Hall, NJ..
5 Levine. Harvey A. ( 1986) Project Managing Using Micro Computers, Osborne
McGraw Hill: Berkley, California.
6 Harrison, F.L. (1992.) Advanced Project Management: A Structured Approach,
Van Nostrand Reinhold: New York.
7. Franked, Ernest G. (1990) Project Management in Engineering Services and Development Butterworths, London.
8. Ludwij, Ernest E. (1994) Applied Project Mgt. for the Process Industries, Gulf Publishing Co.; Houston.
9. Kharbanda. & StaHworking,( 1996) EA, Successful Projects with a moral for Mgt. Gower, England.
10. Mattoo, PK. (1988) Project formulation in developing Countries. Macmillan Co. London