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Market Research

No one goes further than Research Now when it comes to helping our clients dig deeper. You would be hard pressed to find a group of more experienced and knowledgeable professionals who understand the intricacies of the research industry. Many of us in fact have worked for research agencies.

Our innovations team is on the forefront of product development that is helping to shape the future of panel member engagement and data acquisition. And our consultative, client-centric approach allows us to explore unique applications of these products in developing comprehensive solutions that go beyond expectations.

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We give you an extensive range of services, from programming and hosting to sample delivery, scripting to online reporting, to power your insights.

 

Market Research

 

We do market research in different discipline - including survey design, project management, analysis and reporting - and the resources you will find in each are designed to help you do better research, whether you are new to it or a research veteran.

What is Market Research?

Market research is the systematic application of a body of skills and methods to allow organizations to find out what their customers/members/stakeholders know, want, do, think, and feel about their interactions with the organization and its products or services. Organizations conduct market research so they can make better decisions.

Market research is based on talking to and observing customers as people, in the context of their real lives (which is one of the things that differentiates it from simply processing customer data). The two main tools of market research are surveys and qualitative research (e.g. focus groups, depth interviews, and forums), although there are wide range of additional techniques such as ethnography, social media listening, biometrics, semiotics, single question polls, and customer feedback systems.

Market research is based on several academic disciplines, including psychology and sociology. This is because simply asking people questions does not necessarily reveal very much about their beliefs, motives, plans, and usage patterns. Questions have to be designed to access people’s beliefs and feelings and the interpretation needs to deal with the difference between what people say and what they do, in order to improve the reliability and validity of the messages.

Market research is also based on business and marketing principles. The research conducted by market researchers is not academic research and it is not purely social research. Market research is paid for by organizations who want to make better decisions, so it needs to deliver insight and actionable recommendations. Moreover, it has to deliver these results within time and financial budgets.

Why do we do Market Research?

Market research reflects a desire for evidence based decision making by organizations. Sometimes organizations can make decision based on a hunch or based on informal feedback from salesmen, industry experts, and other comparable markets. However, to get the details of a decision right, to align the companies activities with the needs of customers, and to tap into the creativity of customers organizations need to use research.

Typical uses of research include:

  • Measuring and tracking customer satisfaction.
  • Measuring and tracking the effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns.
  • Discovering how products are currently used and consumed by customers.
  • Finding market gaps, where people want a product or service that does not yet exist.
  • Assessing which new products to launch and which to modify.
  • Using co-creative techniques to elicit new product and service ideas from customer.

Organizations conduct market research to help them to make better decisions. The key role of market research is to make it more likely that an organization will be successful and less likely that the organization will fail. In essence, market research is about improving the odds facing the organization.

Marketing Research Process: 9 Stages to Marketing Research Success

Stage 1: Formulating the Marketing Research Problem

Formulating a problem is the first step in the research process. In many ways, research starts with a problem that management is facing. This problem needs to be understood, the cause diagnosed, and solutions developed.

However, most management problems are not always easy to research. A management problem must first be translated into a research problem. Once you approach the problem from a research angle, you can find a solution. For example, “sales are not growing” is a management problem.

Translated into a research problem, we may examine the expectations and experiences of several groups: potential customers, first-time buyers, and repeat purchasers. We will determine if the lack of sales is due to:

  • Poor expectations that lead to a general lack of desire to buy, or
  • Poor performance experience and a lack of desire to repurchase.

What then is the difference between a management problem and a research problem? Management problems focus on an action. Do we advertise more? Do we change our advertising message? Do we change an under-performing product configuration?

If so, how?

Research problems, on the other hand, focus on providing the information you need in order to solve the management problem.

 

Stage 2: Method of Inquiry

The scientific method is the standard pattern for investigation. It provides an opportunity for you to use existing knowledge as a starting point and proceed impartially.

The scientific method includes the following steps:

  1. Formulate a problem
  2. Develop a hypothesis
  3. Make predictions based on the hypothesis
  4. Devise a test of the hypothesis
  5. Conduct the test
  6. Analyze the results

The terminology is similar to the stages in the research process. However, there are subtle differences in the way the steps are performed. For example, the scientific method is objective while the research process can be subjective.

Objective-based research (quantitative research) relies on impartial analysis.

The facts are the priority in objective research. On the other hand, subjective-based research (qualitative research) emphasizes personal judgment as you collect and analyze data.

Stage 3: Research Method

In addition to selecting a method of inquiry (objective or subjective), you must select a research method.

There are two primary methodologies that can be used to answer any research question: experimental research and non-experimental research.

Experimental research gives you the advantage of controlling extraneous variables and manipulating one or more variables that influences the process being implemented. Non-experimental research allows observation but not intervention.

You simply observe and report on your findings.

Stage 4: Research Design

The research design is a plan or framework for conducting the study and collecting data. It is defined as the specific methods and procedures you use to acquire the information you need.

Stage 5: Data Collection Techniques

Your research design will develop as you select techniques to use. There are many ways to collect data. Two important methods to consider are interviews and observation.
Interviews require you to ask questions and receive responses.

Common modes of research communication include interviews conducted face-to-face, by mail, by telephone, by email, or over the Internet. This broad category of research techniques is known as survey research.

These techniques are used in both non-experimental research and experimental research.

Another way to collect data is by observation. Observing a person’s or company’s past or present behavior can predict future purchasing decisions. Data collection techniques for past behavior can include analyzing company records and reviewing studies published by external sources.

In order to analyze information from interview or observation techniques, you must record your results. Because the recorded results are vital, measurement and development are closely linked to which data collection techniques you decide on.

The way you record the data changes depends on which method you use.

Stage 6: Sample Design

Your marketing research project will rarely examine an entire population. It’s more practical to use a sample—a smaller but accurate representation of the greater population. In order to design your sample, you must find answers to these questions:

  1. From which base population is the sample to be selected?
  2. What is the method (process) for sample selection?
  3. What is the size of the sample?

Once you’ve established who the relevant population is (completed in the problem formulation stage), you have a base for your sample. This will allow you to make inferences about a larger population. There are two methods of selecting a sample from a population: probability or non-probability sampling.

The probability method relies on a random sampling of everyone within the larger population.

Non- probability is based in part on the judgment of the investigator, and often employs convenience samples, or by other sampling methods that do not rely on probability.

The final stage of the sample design involves determining the appropriate sample size. This important step involves cost and accuracy decisions. Larger samples generally reduce sampling error and increase accuracy, but also increase costs.

Stage 7: Data Collection

Once you’ve established the first six stages, you can move on to data collection.

Depending on the mode of data collection, this part of the process can require large amounts of personnel and a significant portion of your budget. Personal (face-to-face) and telephone interviews may require you to use a data collection agency (field service).

Internet surveys require fewer personnel, are lower cost, and can be completed in days rather than weeks or months.

Regardless of the mode of data collection, the data collection process introduces another essential element to your research project: the importance of clear and constant communication.

Stage 8: Analysis and Interpretation

In order for data to be useful, you must analyze it.

Analysis techniques vary and their effectiveness depends on the types of information you are collecting, and the type of measurements you are using. Because they are dependent on the data collection, analysis techniques should be decided before this step.

Stage 9: The Marketing Research Report

The marketing research process culminates with the research report.

This report will include all of your information, including an accurate description of your research process, the results, conclusions, and recommended courses of action. The report should provide all the information the decision maker needs to understand the project.

It should also be written in language that is easy to understand. It’s important to find a balance between completeness and conciseness. You don’t want to leave any information out; however, you can’t let the information get so technical that it overwhelms the reading audience.

One approach to resolving this conflict is to prepare two reports: the technical report and the summary report. The technical report discusses the methods and the underlying assumptions. In this document, you discuss the detailed findings of the research project.

The summary report, as its name implies, summarizes the research process and presents the findings and conclusions as simply as possible.

Another way to keep your findings clear is to prepare several different representations of your findings. PowerPoint presentations, graphs, and face-to-face reports are all common methods for presenting your information.

Along with the written report for reference, these alternative presentations will allow the decision maker to understand all aspects of the project.

Resource Planning for Your Study

As you are developing your study, you have to account for the expenditure of your resources: personnel, time, and money. Resource plans need to be worked out with the decision maker and will range from very formal budgeting and approval processes to a very informal “Go ahead and do it”.

Before you can start the research project, you should get yourself organized and prepare a budget and time schedule for the major activities in the study. Microsoft Project and similar programs are good resources for breaking down your tasks and resources.

Have fun with your next research project! These 9 stages should help you out immensely.

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