Everything you need to know what is marketing research. Marketing research is an intelligent versatile tool of various practical applications. It is a pertinent search and study of the marketing of goods and services.

Any business executive has constantly to watch the situation, the problems and their solutions. He has to draw up policies and plans according to objectives and utilize the organizational set-up for effective control.

Marketing research is relatively new field of exertion and a new social science. Research in medicine, physics, and chemistry has been carried on for many centuries, but in the application of research to marketing problems on any extensive scale is largely a development of the last fifty years. In comparison to the physical or natural sciences, marketing research should be considered new as still its frontier days.

Marketing research is basically spotting the needs of customers and meeting them in the best possible manner. Marketing research plays a key role in this process. Starting with market measurement, marketing research helps the firm in every component of the total marketing task.


Learn about:- 1. History and Evolution of Marketing Research 2. Meaning of Marketing Research 3. Definitions 4. Features 5. Objectives 6. Importance 7. Dimensions 8. Areas 9. Process 10. Applications 11. Advantages 12. Disadvantages.

What is Marketing Research? – Meaning, Definitions, Features, Objectives, Importance, Dimensions, Process and Advantages


  1. Brief History and Evolution of Marketing Research
  2. Meaning of Marketing Research
  3. Definitions of Marketing Research
  4. Features of Marketing Research
  5. Objectives of Marketing Research
  6. Importance of Marketing Research
  7. Types of Marketing Research
  8. Areas of Marketing Research
  9. Process of Marketing Research
  10. Applications of Marketing Research
  11. Advantages of Marketing Research
  12. Disadvantages of Marketing Research

What is Marketing Research – Brief History and Evolution

Successful marketers will always try to seek information and identify newer ways to create, communicate and deliver value to their target markets. Good information can be obtained through marketing research. A brief history on marketing research will throw light on how marketing research has evolved overtime.

The beginning of marketing research as an organised business activity began between 1910 and 1920. It is said that in 1911 when Charles Collidge Parlin was appointed as the Manager of the Commercial Research Division of the Advertising Department of the Curtis Publishing Company, began the establishment of organised marketing research.


Till then, informal marketing research had been the practice. Way back in 1380, Johann Fugger took off to Augsburg from native Swabian village of Graben so as to gather information on the international textile industry. In this international role, he exchanged detailed letters on trade conditions and finances in the areas where their branches were located.

In 1720 period there was great demand for information, from various industrial houses, on how to base their marketing decisions. During this period, David Defoe’s publications gave information on the inventories of the business and economic resources of England and Scotland.

There was a good demand for this as it helped business community to take many business decisions. As an impact of the industrial revaluation, there was a sudden increase in demand for information to take various marketing decisions. However, as mentioned above, marketing research as an organised business activity began between 1910 and 1920.

Seeing the success of Charles Parlin, made many industrial firms and advertising media establish research divisions and later on, venture into publishing research books.


1. In 1915, Dr. Paul H. Nystrom, was appointed by the United States Rubber Company to manage their newly established Department of Commercial Research.

2. In 1917, Dr. Louis D.H. Weld of the Yale University was hired by the Swift and Company to become a manager of their Commercial Research Department.

3. In 1919, the first major book on commercial research, ‘Commercial Research- An Outline of Working Principles’ was published by Professor C.S. Duncan of the University of Chicago.

4. In 1921, the first research book to gain wide readership ‘Market Analysis’, by Percival White was released. This book went on to publish several editions.

5. There was a growing interest in the subject of marketing research on the college campuses and in 1937, Market Research and Analysis by Lyndon O. Brown became one of the popular textbooks during that period.

6. After 1940, many research textbooks were published and there was a rapid increase in the number of business schools offering research courses.

After World War II, there seemed to be a dramatic rise in interest in the area of marketing research. By 1948, there were more than two hundred marketing research organisations functioning in the United States and over the next few decades the estimated spend on marketing research activities has only kept on increasing tremendously.

What is Marketing Research – Meaning

Marketing research is an intelligent versatile tool of various practical applications. It is a pertinent search and study of the marketing of goods and services. Any business executive has constantly to watch the situation, the problems and their solutions. He has to draw up policies and plans according to objectives and utilize the organizational set-up for effective control.

Marketing research is relatively new field of exertion and a new social science. Research in medicine, physics, and chemistry has been carried on for many centuries, but in the application of research to marketing problems on any extensive scale is largely a development of the last fifty years. In comparison to the physical or natural sciences, marketing research should be considered new as still its frontier days.


One thing more that sciences are not always infallible. Physics is a pure and exact science and creates no problem. But meteorology deals with a disorderly environment and makes weather forecasts. It has to face atmospheric vagaries. The situation of marketing manager is similar to meteorologists.

Marketing executive and most managerial personnel have to study the disorderly environment of human behaviour. The customer’s choice to purchase or reject any brand is such complicated issue that any scientific instrument to read his behaviour cannot be waterproof.

The marketing manager has to foretell the uncertain future and then make the correct choice to achieve their goals. In fact, marketing research is a new social science with adventurous nature. Modern business system has become so complex and wide that the geographical distance between a manufacturer and his customer is widening day by day.

Most interesting fact is that the distance is assumed an indicator of success and market expansion. With the aid of marketing research, the producer and marketer can keep in touch with the changing trends, needs, preferences, attitudes, etc. of the customers towards design, shape, colour, brand, packing, weight, price etc. of the product.


Emphasizing the role and responsibilities of marketing research, Alfred, P. Sloan, Jr. President of General Motors, observes, “As a result of large scale operation and worldwide distribution, producer and consumer have become more and widely separated so that the necessity of keeping in business sensitively in tune with the requirements of the ultimate consumer becomes a matter of increasing importance. Through marketing research General Motors aims to bridge the gap.”

So in order to succeed well business in marketing research provides a systematic and intelligent investigation of the ‘who, what, why, when, where, how’ of actual and potential buyers.

What is Marketing Research – Definitions Provided by Crisp, Luck, Wales, Taylor, Green and Tull and Philip Kotler

Marketing research is basically spotting the needs of customers and meeting them in the best possible manner. Marketing research plays a key role in this process. Starting with market measurement, marketing research helps the firm in every component of the total marketing task.

It helps the firm acquire a better understanding of the consumer, the competition and the marketing environment. It also aids the formulation of the marketing mix. Decisions on each element of the marketing mix, product, distribution, promotion and pricing, need marketing re- search support.


With the ever-increasing complexity of marketing and business activity, marketing research has also grown in complexity. Today, carrying out research relating to customers, products and markets requires specialized skills and sophisticated techniques. And marketing research has emerged as a highly specialized function of marketing management.

Marketing research has been variously defined by marketing researchers. According to Crisp marketing research is “the systematic, objective and exhaustive search for and study of the facts relevant to any problem in the field of marketing.”

1. Luck, Wales and Taylor have defined marketing research briefly as “the application of scientific method to the solution of marketing problems”.

2. According to Green and Tull, “marketing research is the systematic and objective search for and analysis of information relevant to the identification and solution of any problem in the field of marketing”.

3. However, by far, the most widely accepted definition of marketing research is the one given by the Definition Committee of the American Marketing Association. According to marketing research is “the systematic it, mar-recording and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services.”

An analysis of these definitions clearly highlights some salient points about marketing research. First, that it is a search for data which are relevant to marketing problems-problems in different functional areas of marketing stretching from market to physical distribution and covering problems relating to consumer behaviour, product, sales, distribution channels, advertising, pricing, and physical distribution.


Second that it is carried out in a systematic manner as opposed to a haphazard or hit-and- miss manner. It means that the whole search process is planned which clear objectives and programmes of investigative action. Some authors have attempted to append more adjectives to it so as to explicitly impart it a scientific slant. One such adjective appended is ‘Objective’ which deserves our attention. Objectivity is very relevant and important in every research project.

It means that the search is not carried out to prove a prior opinion or is intentionally slanted to arrive at a predetermined results. Third, that research involves a process of gathering, recording, tabulation, and analysis. Thus, it also involves application of logic to data so as to convert them into information, 5 so that appropriate base for decision-making is developed.

However, none of these definitions is explicit about the managerial purposes of marketing research except saying that data are required for solving marketing problems.

We may, therefore, define marketing research as objective and systematic collection, recording and analysis of date relevant to marketing problems of a business in order to develop an appropriate information base for decision-making in the marketing area.

i. Contributions and limitations of marketing research.

ii. Contributions of Marketing Research.


From the foregoing it is apparent that the scope of marketing research activity is very wide. It addresses itself to possibly all aspects of marketing. However, its role is not only all pervading in marketing but its contributions to effective marketing management are also substantial. Its major and singular contribution is in segmenting the effectiveness of marketing decisions.

Marketing research uncovers facts from both outside and within the company relevant to marketing decisions and provides a sustainable and logical base for making decisions. Nevertheless, decisions are still made in the absence of marketing research findings, but then they are based not on facts but on guess work and intuition, highlights the difference in decision making when it is based on intuition and on facts provided by marketing research.

Decisions based on facts are prone to be more effective because their match with the consumer needs is near perfect. On the basis of facts provided by marketing research, the marketing executive’s knowledge about the market environment and the company’s constraints is considerably increased; it helps him in narrowing down his range of alternatives and facilitates the selection of one which provides a reasonably perfect match to a given.

According to Green and Tull, “Marketing research is the systematic and objective search for and analysis of information relevant to the identification and solution of any problem (i.e., specific marketing situation) in the field of marketing”.

According to Philip Kotler, Marketing research is defined as, “the systematic design, collection, analysis, and reporting of data and findings relevant to a specific marketing situations facing the company”.

Marketing research is a systematic and objective study of problems pertaining to the marketing of goods and services. Marketing programme starts from identifying and creating needs; segmenting, targeting and positioning the heterogeneous needs, and not even ends, until customers’ needs are satisfied effectively and efficiently, consistently and continuously, better than the competitors by the marketers.


Marketing research is also the starting point of the marketing management and perform as the base of the marketing efforts throughout. It may be emphasized that it is not only restricted to any particular area of marketing, but is applicable to all its phases and aspects.

Marketing research is the fundamental function linking the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through such information which is used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problem; generated, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of market as a process.

Marketing research provides the requisite timely and accurate information for making marketing decisions by reacting to the marketing opportunities and problems.

What is Marketing Research – 7 Major Features: Function of Marketing Management, Integrated Effort, Systems Approach, Inter-Disciplinary Process and a Few Others

The prominent features marketing research are as follows:

Feature # 1. Function of Marketing Management:

The information generated through marketing research can be used to determine most appropriate marketing mix. Marketing research operations helps the marketing executives to keep abreast with the environmental changes by providing right information on dynamic environments to facilitate decision-making.

The marketing environment consists of customers, competitors, suppliers, distributors, etc. Therefore, marketing research is a well recognised and very important function of marketing management.

Feature # 2. Integrated Effort:


For carrying out marketing research activities in any organisation, a group effort is needed. Research objectives are organized by planning executives and data requirement for the accomplishment of these objectives are determined by the data analyst. The data processor should be familiar with the nature and location of available data to retrieve and process it at the desired time. Therefore, marketing research is an integrated effort.

Feature # 3. Systems Approach:

A number of activities viz., collection, recording, tabulating, evaluating, analysing and interpretation of information are included in marketing research. Each of these activities is performed by some experts who are supervised by marketing management executives. Therefore, marketing research constitutes a systems approach from start to finish.

Feature # 4. Inter-Disciplinary Process:

Marketing research involves collection of data and information from various fields such as psychology, sociology, economics etc. Similarly, study of consumer behaviour involves psychological and sociological study. Furthermore, various statistical and mathematical techniques are used to process the information. Therefore, it is regarded as inter-disciplinary process.

Feature # 5. Imperfect Science:

A group of prescribed procedures for establishing and connecting general laws to enhance knowledge by developing concepts, collecting and analysing meaningful data and the critical study of concepts and premises is termed as scientific method and hence marketing research is a science. But the studies in marketing research are never exact as it deals with unpredictable and dynamic human behaviour.

The results are always uncertain with certain amount of risk. Therefore, marketing research is based on scientific method and can be termed as science but it cannot be designated as perfect like other Social Science, i.e., it is an imperfect science.

Feature # 6. Indispensable for the New Product Introduction:

The market research is used to find out: suitable avenues and place of the new products, before introducing a new product. It reveals the various opportunities of new markets and reveals the methods to reach the markets.

Feature # 7. Market-Orientation:

Marketing research aims at enabling the firms to produce that kind of goods and services which is acceptable to the customers. It sees that the goods and services must reach the market easily, quickly, cheaply and profitably. The right course of action to approach and sustain the market is possible with suitable marketing research.

What is Marketing Research – 10 Important Objectives: To Discover the News Markets, To Hold the Greater Market Share, To Minimise the Cost of Marketing and a Few Others 

Objective # 1. To Discover the New Markets:

The most important objective of marketing research is to discover the new market for the product. These can be discovered by advertising, market survey, effective salesmanship, etc.

Objective # 2. To Hold the Greater Market Share:

An important objective of marketing research is to enable the organisation to capture greater market share. Market share refers to that region of a particular industry’s total sale which a firm aims to achieve.

Objective # 3. To Evaluate Tastes and Preferences of Customers:

Marketing research analyses tastes and preferences of customers. Helps in analysing the likings and disliking of the consumers. The marketing department should make an analysis of the demand and preference of product from time-to-time.

Objective # 4. To Anticipate the Future Sales Volume:

Marketing research is targeted at studying and understanding the consumer behaviour. It smooth the way in determining the probable future sales volume that can be achieved either by creating new markets or by adding new lines of production.

Objective # 5. To Minimise the Cost of Marketing:

Reducing the cost of marketing is an important objective of marketing research. The cost of marketing is inclusive of selling, advertising, promotion and distribution of products. Marketing research here assists in determining the methods by which excessive (unnecessary) sales and advertisement expenditure can be reduced to minimum possible extent.

Objective # 6. To Improve the Quality of Product:

Improving the quality of the product is another objective of marketing research. The main objective of marketing research is to identify the needs, wants and demands of the target customer, so that the firm can introduce changes in the product according to the important requirements. It is this quality of product that helps to create brand loyalty of the customer toward the firm’s product.

Objective # 7. To Assist in Formulation of Suitable Price Policy:

Marketing research renders valuable information to the management about competitive prices. Price is the amount of money charged for a product or services that consumers exchange for the benefits of product or service. This information also shows the packaging, quality and discounts of competitive products.

Objective # 8. To Effectively Face Cut Throat Competition:

Facing cut throat competition is also an important objective of marketing research. In modern time, no firm can survive without facing competition in the market. Since any reaction of the competitors firm can affect the demand of the firm, hence, the firm should also take proper action in response to the strategy of competitor.

Objective # 9. To Make Liaison with Ultimate Consumers:

Consumer is a human being and his behaviour is never static. Consumers are neither so simple that they do not require to be studied, nor so complex that their study is not possible. Marketing research helps the firm to be in touch with the consumers, behaviour and as a result, the management may take appropriate decisions in relation to production policies, pricing policies, channels of distribution, sales promotion activities and finally to face the competition.

Objective # 10. To Analyse the External Environment:

External environment refers to the present government policies and regulations. An important objective of marketing research is to study the effect of external environment on decision-making by the firm. It also provides information regarding the probable development in the foreign markets, new products and substitutes, emergence of new competitors and their future impact on firm’s output.

What is Marketing Research – Importance: Reduction of Risk, Identifying Target Markets, New Product Ideas, Facing the Competition, Planned Production and a Few Others 

1. Reduction of Risk:

Marketing research reduces the risks involved in marketing decisions. The findings of marketing research can be used to aid in planning, selling, sales promotion, advertising, etc.

Marketing research helps in reducing the risks involved in marketing decisions by providing:

(i) Current information required by the marketing manager to take decisions.

(ii) Generalized knowledge or theory about the marketing process.

2. Identifying Target Markets:

Marketing research helps the organization to identify those markets or territories where their products are likely to sell. Customer surveys give an idea about those areas where the demand for a particular product is comparatively higher. The organization can target such markets.

3. Helps to Carve a Niche Market:

Niche markets are highly specialised markets where specific products are aimed at serving specific customer needs. Marketing research provides such information to the company which enables it to identify the market segments which have not been targeted so far by competitors and thus carve a niche for itself.

4. New Product Ideas:

The company can obtain fresh ideas for new and innovative products through marketing research information. Facts and figures regarding customer buying habits and preferences are provided by such research which makes it possible to come up with ideas for new product development.

5. Discovering New Uses of Existing Product:

Marketing research provides information regarding various uses of the product. If a company’s products are being used for purposes other than the one originally intended, then the company can leverage this fact to its advantage by promoting newer uses for the same product.

6. Facing the Competition:

When an organization studies the marketing policies, practices and strategies of its competitors through marketing research, it is better equipped to design its own policies and plans to effectively challenge the competitors in the market.

7. Planned Production:

As marketing research helps in estimating the demand of the product, it facilitates the production of the product in a planned way so that equilibrium is maintained in demand and supply position in the market.

8. Understanding Customer Needs:

Marketing research involves analysing consumer behaviour and preferences in order to identify their unfulfilled needs. Efforts are made to understand the requirements and wants of the customers so that new products can be planned accordingly to cater to their needs.

What is Marketing Research – 5 Basic Dimensions: Time Horizon, Types of Data, Research Objectives, Research Purpose and Data Sources

Although marketing research can be classified in many different ways, there are five basic dimensions which need to be considered carefully. Most studies involve a combina­tion of these dimensions.

The first classifies marketing research in terms of two different time horizons relating to the required information – continuous or ad hoc research.

The second classifies marketing research in terms of the two, essentially different, types of data which might be obtained – quantitative or qualitative.

The third dimension classifies marketing research in terms of the different objectives in obtaining the information – exploratory or conclusive.

The fourth is also related to the purpose of the research, which could be – descriptive or causal.

The final classification relates to the data sources, which could be – secondary or primary.

Individually the five dimensions are inter­related rather than mutually exclusive, making classification somewhat complicated.

1. Time Horizons:

i. Continuous Marketing Research:

Marketing information, such as total sales by product variant and geographic region, is gathered on a routine basis so that it can be compared over time. This allows the performance of the marketing activities of an organisation to be monitored and, in particular, market trends to be determined.

By definition, continuous marketing research is produced on a regular/periodic basis. It supplements existing marketing information and is usually presented as a memo or newsletter. Because of the cost and resources involved, continuous research should be limited to collecting information which is required for routine decisions or feedback and monitoring.

It is an activity which needs to be kept in check since, with the advent of computer databases, it is comparatively easy to produce more data than can be used by the managers for whom it is produced.

ii. Ad Hoc Marketing Research:

When research is required for a one-off specific purpose it is generally referred to as ad hoc research as it is carried out only when actually required to assist a marketing deci­sion. An example could be the investigating of the viability of a new product, or the reasons behind a drop in sales. Usually the presentation of the research findings will be in a formal report.

It is customary for such reports to be sufficiently comprehensive for the information presented to be of value to users who may have no relevant intangible marketing information on the subject. This is important since otherwise the value of the information provided is likely to depend more on the user’s existing knowledge of the subject than on the quality of the marketing research.

In many organisations this type of research is seen as the main purpose of the market­ing research department. However, this is generally misleading since, although the presentation of continuous research as a memo or newsletter may not be impressive, it is often used as the basis for much of the ad hoc research undertaken as well as routine feedback. For this reason it is important that continuous research information is pro­duced in a form that allows detailed analysis, should this be required.

It is also inevitable that most marketing research textbooks focus mainly on ad hoc research. The reason for this is that ad hoc research involves a number of well-established stages and procedures. In contrast, since continuous research is a routine activity, most of these stages are only necessary when setting up the routine.

In practice, most continuous research is, at least in part, subjected to the full research process from time to time as a result of being used in ad hoc research. In many organisations such research is also done when preparing the annual marketing planning reference document.

2. Types of Data:

i. Quantitative Data:

Any information which can be expressed using a numerical measure is considered quan­titative. It includes not only numerical data, such as that obtained from internal sales and accounting records, but also the numerical aspects of other data, often derived from questionnaires.

It could also include studies of distribution levels, repeat purchase rates or even opinion polls regarding voting intentions. More than three-quarters of all mar­keting research data is classified as quantitative. Nearly all continuous marketing research comes within this category since usually it is undertaken to provide data for time series analysis.

ii. Qualitative Data:

Qualitative research is concerned with information which is based on descriptions and shades of meaning rather than numerical analysis. It is commonly used in the early stages of ad hoc research studies. One popular source of qualitative data is that derived from small focused group discussions.

In general, it involves unstructured exploration or inductive problem-solving techniques which are beyond the scope of an introductory text such as this. Although in practice less than a quarter of the marketing research undertaken can be classified as qualitative, this category is much discussed both with regard to the methods used and resultant findings. It has resulted in the development of many concepts seen as useful in defining and categorising market segments, such as lifestyle.

3. Research Objectives:

i. Exploratory Marketing Research:

The purpose of exploratory research is to identify the nature of a marketing problem in order to decide what issues should be measured or how it is best to undertake a study. It is used to indicate issues or generate ideas or hypotheses. Since exploratory research is problem-orientated, it has always to be carried out as ad hoc research. Qualitative research techniques are often used in order to minimise the effect that the terms of refer­ence might have on the research outcome.

ii. Conclusive Research:

Research must be considered as an aid to marketing deci­sions and as such cannot replace this role. Conclusive research is aimed at providing information which management requires. It might be used to test a hypothesis set up in advance of the data collection, but more likely it involves measuring the variables identi­fied as particularly relevant to a particular decision.

The deductive approach to problem solving can only be applied to problems where it is possible and practical to obtain data which is appropriate and reliable. For other problems, the alternative inductive approach to problem solving is generally more appropriate.

The inductive approach involves establishing concepts by identifying repeated patterns in the behaviour being observed. The validity of the applicability of these patterns is then verified by repeated empirical studies. The results obtained are generally stated as para­digms rather than laws since their application is subject to exception.

This is the normal approach used for psychological work involved in, for instance, buyer behaviour studies. It would have been the approach used by Maslow to develop his hierarchical theory of motivation. It is also the basis used for qualitative marketing research. The implementa­tion of this approach to problem-solving requires specialist training and experience and is thus beyond the scope of introductory texts such as this.

4. Research Purpose:

i. Descriptive Marketing Research:

Descriptive research focuses on product performance, market size, trends, competitive strategies and market share. It is typically concerned with measuring/estimating vari­ables and the frequency of their occurrence. Depending on the objective and context, this could be the result of either continuous or ad hoc research.

ii. Causal Marketing Research:

Causal research looks at the cause-and-effect relationships in an attempt to explain why things happen; for instance, whether loss of market share is due to the success of a direct competitor or the result of an indirect competitor’s success in an associated market seg­ment. Like exploratory research, causal research is usually undertaken on an ad hoc basis.

Causal research is often more analytical than descriptive research and is intended to reveal the factors critical to the behaviour of consumers or, more generally, markets. It can thus involve using both quantitative and qualitative research techniques and so is beyond the scope of most introductions to marketing research such as this.

5. Data Sources:

Data is formally available from three separate sources. These are discussed in the usual order in which they are carried out. It may seem strange but should be easy to remember that the first two categories provide secondary data that is data from sources that already exist. The final source provides primary data.

i. Secondary Sources – Internal Data:

Internal data is the information which is internal to an organisation and usually the start­ing point for subsequent studies. It is a rich source of good quality information already held within an organisation, and it is essential that it is fully utilised.

Internal data can be drawn from:

a. Sales records

b. Delivery and stock records

c. Prices and quotations

d. Sales promotion – price offers, etc.

e. Advertising – media and messages – size of budget

f. Sales personnel’s call reports and assessments of their effectiveness

g. Past studies on marketing effectiveness.

Of particular interest in the context of marketing is the time series data relating to orders received, products delivered, advertising expen­diture, promotional campaigns, sales by customer or sales territory and so on. Sometimes the information required is available directly from routine reports giving continuous data. However, there are often occasions when it is insufficiently detailed in some way.

Much of the time series data will have been summarised, for instance as sales by day or week or month or even as quarterly or annual figures. Inevitably, detail is lost as the figures are summarised. Usually this is because the summaries are prepared primarily to provide managers with measures of financial efficiency. While such measures are essen­tial in any business organisation, they are likely to use conventions set by the accounting requirements rather than the needs of marketing.

Traditionally, for manufacturing companies, financial efficiency has been seen as being largely dependent upon production efficiency. This orientation led to the develop­ment of the production-orientated costing systems which form the basis of modern management accounting practice.

Cost accounting as a procedure involves considerable clerical routine and its automation was one of the earliest business applications of com­puter technology. Because of this, many costing systems retained their production orientation even when this was no longer justified.

As a result, it is not uncommon to find that even sophisticated management accounting systems are unable to provide information in the form required for detailed marketing analysis. Fortunately, providing the basic information can be accessed, it is now usually possible, to use a personal com­puter to extract and collate the information in the form required, although it can be surprisingly difficult and time consuming.

Although one of the principal objectives of collating internal marketing data is to mon­itor the performance of the marketing function, in practice this information is of little value for decision making unless it can be compared with the market as a whole.

For long-term success, organisations need to grow faster than the market during periods of growth and decline less rapidly than the market during periods of decline. In order to make these comparisons it is necessary to refer to data obtained from outside sources.

ii. Primary Data Sources:

Primary research has been referred to already and is often referred to as field research, in contrast to the term desk research used above, to describe the collection of secondary data.

Primary data is derived from one or more of the following four market research techniques:

a. Observation

b. Surveys (interviews)

c. Projective methods

d. Experimentation.

For a full description of such techniques there are many marketing texts available. Appendix 4 gives some guidelines for designing questionnaire-based surveys.

You will remember that to be of value marketing information must be:

a. Reliable /accurate

b. Valid

c. Relevant

d. Sufficient

e. Current/up-to-date.

It needs to be understandable to whoever will be using the information. This is often a major challenge for the marketing researcher even though personal computers offer an extensive range of alternative methods of analysis and presentation. Ideally the method chosen should be simple and easily explained to the person who is to use the information.

What is Marketing Research – Areas: Advertising Research, Product Research, Business Economics and Corporate Research and Sales and Market Research

Different Areas of Marketing Research:

Clark and Clark define marketing research as – “The careful and objective study of product design, markets and such transfer activities as physical distribution, warehousing, advertising and sales management”. Thus the areas of marketing research lies in its variety of applications.

They may be summarised as follows:

1. Advertising Research – Advertising effectiveness, copy research, media research, etc. Thus, marketing research has a broad area of application which describes its scope. The main purposes of marketing research to a marketer are planning and control, but, one point that must be stressed here that a marketer (or a marketing manager) has always limitations in terms of resources (staff and money) and time. There may be a number of problems or decisions to face and only critical problems areas should be identified and given priorities for research.

2. Product Research – Acceptance of existing products, acceptance of new products, packaging competitive products etc.

3. Business Economics and Corporate Research – Short range forecasting, long range forecasting, pricing (policies and strategies) studies, studying business trends, and MIS, etc.

4. Sales and Market Research – Measuring market potential, analysing market shares, determining market characteristics, sales analysis, sales quotas and territories, test marketing audits and distribution channels.

What is Marketing Research – Steps: Formulate the Research Programme, Conceptualize a Research Design, Select a Sample, Write the Research Proposal and a Few Others

To understand marketing research, it helps to have a basic grasp of the process used to gather data. The research process is composed of a series of eight steps to achieve the overall goal of generating usable information.

A typical marketing research process has the following steps:

Step # 1. Formulate the Research Program:

This is often the hardest step in executing the research program. The researcher looks for underlying causes of the problem. Often certain symptoms are incorrectly identified as the problem. Solving a symptom does not solve the underlying problem. For example, a retail manager of a gym finds that sales figures are a little low compared to those of the same time the previous year. The question she should ask is- ‘Are lower sales the primary problem?’ The answer is most likely ‘no’; rather, the lower sales are probably a symptom of the primary problem. To uncover the primary problem, the appropriate question is – “What caused the sales decrease?”

When distinguishing symptoms from problems, the manager may find that sales are low for other retailers and that her gym’s sales decrease is actually the smallest of all competitors’. This may be due to a slumping economic environment. Thus, there is no internal problem; instead the problem is industry-wide. Managers may need to develop response strategies to counter retail environmental issues.

Problem formulation is difficult for beginners because they are used to being given problems. Think about your last college examination. If it was a multiple-choice test, the professor gave you a series of problems or questions, along with a series of possible solutions. This is not the way it happens in the retail world, however. In professional retailing, you are not given the original problem to be solved (and far less a series of potential solutions from which to choose). Critical, analytical thinking must come into play.

In retailing, the research problem usually comes about because retail objectives are not being met. When this is the case, the first question to ask is – “Why?” To uncover the problem, the researcher must search for data in the specific area of interest to avoid collecting an excessive amount of useless data. A secondary data search helps develop a better understanding of the retail environment under study.

In addition, a comprehensive secondary data review may actually solve the problem and avoid the need to develop a more formalised approach to getting the necessary information. If the secondary data help solve the problem, the research process is complete. If it does not offer solutions to the problem, the research process must continue. Once the research problem has been clearly defined — in other words, once the question “What needs to be accomplished or solved by undertaking the research process?” has been answered — the researcher is ready to continue. During this step, it is wise to identify variables that may alter the findings – What environmental issues and variables may have an impact on the final solution?

Step # 2. Conceptualise a Research Design:

In step 2, a choice needs to be made among the many available types of research designs (observation, survey, longitudinal study, and so on). The research design is used as a guide throughout the entire research process and is dependent on the type of data to be collected and how they are to be collected. Thus, a thorough understanding of the problem is needed to choose the research design that will be most effective in solving the problem.

Step # 3. Create a Data Collection Instrument:

Based on the identified problem, methods of data retrieval and collection are chosen. When creating a data collection instrument, options include a questionnaire, an observation feedback form, or a personal interview feedback sheet. For example, a retailer has ordered 100,000 pens to be used in the retail promotions department. When the shipment arrives, the retailer does not want to look at every single item to determine how many are defective.

In this case, the retailer uses an observation feedback form to record defects. To save time, the retailer chooses a sample of pens and then extrapolates, or projects, the number of defective units from that sampling. In this case, a ‘piece of paper,’ is the research instrument and, for this retailer, is sufficient to record the data pertaining to the problem.

Step # 4. Select a Sample:

To use statistics correctly, the selection of a sample must be somewhat scientific. One needs to understand the concept of sampling and to know whether a probability sample or a nonprobability sample is called for to complete the research project.

Step # 5. Write the Research Proposal:

It is not within the scope of this text to discuss the development of research proposals. Briefly, this proposal needs to cover the secondary data search, the problem, what is to be accomplished from the work, the hypothesises, the study design, and methodologies to be used in generating responses from the sample. The proposal should also include a section on how and to whom the findings will be communicated.

Step # 6. Collect the Data and Enter into Database:

In this step the data are collected and placed into some type of database to allow for analysis. The data collection process must be conducted in a sensitive and ethical manner. In most instances, subjects need to be ‘briefed’ about the intent of the research.

Once the data are collected, the analyst codes the data. Coding involves assigning the data numbers and/or titles to help the computer read them. Not all researchers code data, but data coding helps organise and interpret the data, which is done in the next step. After coding, the data are then entered into the appropriate database.

Step # 7. Analyse and Interpret Data:

In this step, statistics are used to analyse the data. After statistics have been applied, an interpretation of the data is made.

Step # 8. Write the Research Report:

There are several things to keep in mind when writing the research report. Most important is to understand the audience that will read the report. Are they practitioners who have little time or use for every detail of the project? Are they researchers who will be very interested in the methods used to collect and present the data? Should the report include a “works cited” section, a reference section, or a bibliography section, or perhaps all three? Regardless of the audience, it is standard practice to include the conclusions and recommendations within the body of the report.

Often it is necessary to complete an executive summary at the beginning of the research report. An executive summary is essentially an abstract of the entire report. It should identify all the activities performed in the research process, including recommendations on how to solve the problem or issue, in a page or less.

What is Marketing Research – Application: Relationship Marketing, Brand Equity Measurement, Customer Satisfaction, Total Quality Management and a Few Others

Application # 1. Relationship Marketing:

Relationship Marketing has been defined as “Consistent application of up to date knowledge of individual customers to product and service design which is communicated interactively in order to develop a continuous and long-term relationship which is mutually beneficial”.

The above definition highlights that it is necessary to identify on a continuous basis the characteristics of the customers in a detailed manner. The individualisation involves tailoring company’s all efforts in offering a product or service to the customer based on the identification of his/her needs.

Communication interactively refers to a continuous dialogue which is necessary to understand the customers needs as well as the company’s strategic value. If such interactions are made it will result in a long and lasting relationship between the customer and the firm.

Some of the key features of relationship marketing where marketing research can help in building up databases are:

i. Through market research try to identify the underlying needs of the consumers and enhance customer satisfaction by providing lifetime value to the customers.

ii. With the help of research identify ways to provide – quality, customer service and marketing, oriented programs towards regular customer contact and long-term commitment.

Through Marketing Research, the firm can build a database which will effectively enable it (the firm) to go for Customer profiling (use the data to find out customer’s specific interests and characteristics) and Personalisation (delivering customised content to the individual customer). It must be remembered that this method of database marketing will provide the means by which a firm can identify, maintain and build up its network of customers.

Application # 2. Brand Equity Measurement:

Brand equity can be defined as a set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand that adds to or subtracts from the value of a product or service to a company and/or its customers.

The concept of brand equity has been accepted by marketers and academicians since more than two decades. At the conceptual and practical levels there has been reasonable acceptance as to what is meant by brand equity.

Typically, while referring to brand equity, the assets and liabilities will always be associated with the name/symbol of the brand and they will vary from context to context. Broadly speaking, brand equity can be categorised on the basis of brand loyalty, awareness of the name, consumers perception about quality, other parameters or features associated with the brand, in addition to perceived quality and other proprietary brand assets such as patents, trademarks, etc.

Approaches to Measuring Brand Equity:

Predominantly, there are two approaches used for measuring brand equity:

(a) Financial approaches to measure brand equity (These are from the firm’s perspective).

(b) Consumer based approaches to measure brand equity (From the consumer’s perspective).

(A) Financial Approaches to Measure Brand Equity:

Many approaches have been tried/used to measure brand equity at a firm’s level:

(1) One approach was suggested by Simon and Sullivan to measure brand equity at the firm level, by considering the incremental cash flows that accrue to the firm because of its investment in brands.


(i) Since the data is aggregated to the firm level, this approach may not be useful for considering a brand in a multi-brand firm with multiple product categories.

(ii) It is not possible to attribute all increase in cash flow to brand building activities alone.

(iii) It will be difficult to separate brand related effects from other effects such as price and quality differentials.

(2) Another approach uses the basis of aggregating the cost of all marketing, advertising and R&D expenditure related to the brand over a period of time to measure brand equity.

(B) Consumer-Based Approaches to Measure Brand Equity:

There are various approaches to measure brand equity at an individual level.

(1) In a study by Green and Srinivasan, the brand name was included as a factor in the conjoint analysis method performed at the individual level. The relative utility associated with the brand name with respect to the other important attributes was treated as a measure of the brand equity.


(i) This method has the typical problems of using conjoint analysis – unrealistic product profiles and a large number of combinations to be ranked.

(ii) No information on the sources of brand equity, is known.

(2) Srinivasan also tried the brand specific effect method whereby brand equity is estimated by comparing actual choice behaviour with those implied by utilities obtained. This was done with the help of product attributes obtained through conjoint analysis.

Application # 3. Customer Satisfaction:

In these days of intense competition, one need not emphasize that a company’s success at the market place will ultimately depend on how it creates and delivers better value through better ‘Customer Satisfaction’ to its target market vis-a-vis its competitors.

The ‘value’ leading to enhanced customer satisfaction will include not just the tangible or functional aspects (product quality, features, varieties etc.) but more so the intangibles in the form of – speed, time, ambience at the sales counter, staff behaviour, etc. (related to the process of acquisition of the product/service), confidence in the reliability of the offers being made, high quality communication and so on.

It is the combined value of the functional and emotional aspects which will result in consumer satisfaction, further leading to creating a brand equity in the minds of the customer, which is critical in achieving the market share objective of the firm.

Customer Satisfaction and Managing Perception:

When the consumer receives a product or service, the satisfaction will work out to be the positive difference between what is being delivered and what is expected by him. It can be said that two types of perceptions (perceived value) can affect the ultimate levels of customer satisfaction.

(i) The customer’s expectation of perceived value.

(ii) What the consumer perceives he is actually receiving from the manufacturer (which may be different from what the supplier organization may think it is providing).

Thus, organisations will have to manage perceptions at two levels, i.e.- (1) manage the consumer’s own perception about his needs and (2) how the consumer perceives the offerings made by the service provider (or organisation) are.

Organisations can work towards creating a positive customer satisfaction by- Either delivering a higher level of satisfaction than expected by the target customer or manage the expectation level such that their product or service offerings exceed such managed expectations.

Customer Satisfaction Programme:

The following are some of the, “dos” while working out consumer satisfaction research:

i. A Clear Definition of the Goals and Usefulness of the Information:

It is very necessary to set clear, measurable and comprehensive goals for consumer satisfaction research. The goals and objective of the research process will help to gather more information on the users, their involvement and use these to plan strategic and tactical applications of the same.

ii. Seek the Customers and Employees Involvement in the Process:

The involvement of both the customers and employees will help in subsequent measurement of the key drivers of satisfaction. After identifying what parameters compose of the customers’ and employees perceptions and the expectations for quality and satisfaction, it will be easy to involve them in the process. It will also help to organise cross-functional quality improvement teams.

iii. Assessment and Measurement of Critical Needs:

Through in-depth interview (telephone/mail or personal) with a representative sample of customers (existing, ex and prospects) quantitative information can be obtained. This will help in identifying the qualitative attributes as well as competitors performance on those attributes and measuring these critical needs.

iv. Periodic Measurement of Company’s and Competitors Performance:

It is necessary to periodically measure the company’s and competitors performance on the key drivers of satisfaction. This will reveal the rate at which customer satisfaction is improving or declining.

Of course, how frequently the measurement should be done will be dependent on the market dynamics with due consideration taken to ensure that sufficient time has elapsed to facilitate change which become measurable.

v. Specific Issues While Framing Questionnaire:

Certain ‘dos’ have to be kept in mind while framing questionnaire for customer satisfaction studies. The questionnaire should include questions relevant to the target customers group, those which will indicate overall ratings, performance ratings, questions indicating whether the customer will patronage the product usage in the future, demographic and psychographic information and in general information useful for cross tabulation analysis.

Application # 4. SERVQUAL Method to Measure Satisfaction:

SERVQUAL method can be used to measure satisfaction of service offers, retailing and other areas (after sufficient modifications are made).

The SERVQUAL survey questions can be classified into five categories:

(a) Questions on the tangible aspects such as appearance of facilities, personnel, etc. (four questions).

(b) Questions measuring reliability (five questions).

(c) Questions indicating responsiveness (four questions).

(d) Questions indicating assurance such as – courtesy, competence, credibility and security (four questions).

(e) Questions which involve empathy dimensions such as easy access, communication, customer understanding (five questions).

The customer forming a part of the representative sample, for survey has to fill up the questionnaire measuring the various dimensions in the 22 questions and then be used to measure competitor performance, one for each firm or product. The SERVQUAL score for a product is worked out by measuring the difference between the perception of the dimension and the expectation.

It will be easy for the company to understand its quality of service on all the five dimensions by taking an average for a particular dimension and calculating an overall score. It will also be possible to work out a weighted SERVQUAL score by asking the customer to assign weights (summing to 1) on each of the five dimensions. A scale will give a qualitative measurement of the customer’s feelings and attitudes and experience with the firm’s products and services.

Selection of the scale will be based on the properties inherent in each of the different levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio.

Most of the behavioural marketing research studies to measure customer satisfaction are interval scales – descriptive statistics (arithmetical mean, standard deviation) and tests of significance (t – tests, Anova).

Application # 5. Total Quality Management (TQM):

TQM is defined as a systematic effort at continuous quality improvement of all processes, products, services and human resources throughout the organisation, undertaken with the intention of improving customer satisfaction.

Satisfaction scores on six product parameters are used to identify the gaps between the perception of the management and the customer on performance.

TQM is essentially a Japanese concept where a company continuously strives for improvement in quality, with the involvement of cross-functional teams within the organisation, with the help of various tools and techniques and quantifiable measures as well as rewards based on these measures.

In order to ensure customer satisfaction the firm adopting the TQM should set the guiding principles for data choices. For there will always be a clear link between the kinds of data collected and maintained and the quality values of the company.

Application # 6. Online or Internet Marketing:

In today’s fast paced technology moving world, much of the business is carried out over digital networks involving businesses (companies) and people (customers). Due to the comfort and widespread usage of the Internet among people, online or Internet marketing has become a very popular method of purchasing products and services, by customers.

In a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, it was found that as of June 2012, there were 138 million claimed Internet users in India, 99 million from urban India and 39 million from the rural parts of the country. The report adds that there is seen a growth of 16 per cent of the number of claimed Internet users, when compared to 2011.

And this number is estimated to grow up to 150 million by December 2012. The report also mentioned about the penetration of active users (mainly driven by the youth who are tech savvy) which has resulted in an increase in the frequency of Internet usage from a mere 28 per cent of the users in 2011, accessing Internet daily to about 54 per cent in May 2012. Online shopping, writing emails and social networking are some of the main purposes of Internet usage.

Types of Online Marketing:

Online or Internet marketing can be classified based on who carries it out and at whom it is aimed.

Broadly, Internet marketing can take place between:

(i) Business to Consumer

(ii) Business to Business

(iii) Consumer to Consumer

(iv) Consumer to Business

(i) Business to Consumer:

Internet marketing takes place when marketers sell goods and services to final consumers, through their websites. In this type of online marketing, marketers will target consumers who are internet savvy, visit various websites and gather information on various products and services offerings and place orders for the selected items thereafter.

For instance, futurebazaar(dot)com, indiabazar, homeshop 18, flipkart(dot)com etc. are some the of popular shopping websites preferred by Indian customers. The popularity of this method of marketing can be gauged from the fact that even government owned Indian Railways website www(dot)irctc(dot)co(dot)in, offers passengers (customers using the railway services), options such as booking and/or cancelling of railway tickets, book into their selected hotel rooms, hire vehicles for transportation etc.

(ii) Business to Business:

Online marketing involves business marketers offering product information, customer purchase support services online to business customers. For doing this, these B2B marketers use B2B websites email, online product catalogs, online trading networks with important business customers.

(iii) Consumer to Consumer:

Online marketing, the Internet acts as a medium through which consumers can buy or exchange goods or information directly with other registered users. Inter-exchange of information, by consumers, can be carried out via blogs, online journals etc. Hence sometimes, marketers try to reach out to targeted customers by advertising on or tapping into existing blogs. So, web savvy and online buyers not only consume (online) product information but can also work as word of mouth (or web) advocators and influence other buyer’s purchase decisions.

(iv) Consumer to Business:

Internet marketing enables consumers to search out sellers on the web, gather more information about their product offers, initiate the purchase process and also give a feedback on their buying experience. For instance, would be buyers of cleartrip(dot)com can bid for airline tickets, hotel rooms, cab services (rental), tourist packages etc.

Application # 7. Rural Market Research:

Rural consumers are very different from their urban counterparts. There are certain distinctive characteristic features such as lower levels of literacy, limited exposure to goods and services, type of occupation options which can affect their income levels, income flows and a high rate of interdependency – all of which have a direct impact on the rural consumer behaviours.

So any marketer interested in conducting a rural consumer research study must have to let go of the conventional market research tools and use only those which can be easily comprehended by the village community.

Most of the steps involved in rural market research are similar to those followed in the conventional urban marketing, with the broad difference being in the area of data collection.

The first comprehensive attempt, to study the rural market was made by Hindustan Thompson Associate (HTA) before 1980s. This database gave information on the market potential value, up to the district level on the basis of 26 variables such as demographics, occupational patterns etc.

This information helped in segmenting rural markets directly especially for agricultural inputs and durables but with limited utility for consumer durables and consumables. The Institute of Rural Management Anand, (IRMA) took the initiative of offering a course on rural marketing.

The institute developed many case studies on rural consumers and carried out researches on issues related to the evolvement of the rural markets and market potential analysis. Today market researchers are engaged in adopting different tools and techniques to gain newer and better rural consumer insights.

Research Tools Used for Rural Research:

There are various tools used by different market research organizations and advertising agencies to analyse the rural market.

These include:

1. Semiotic analysis developed by A C Nielsen to study association people have with different signs and symbols.

2. Customer eQ developed by A C Nielsen to measure quality satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Advanced Tracking Programme (ATP) developed by IMRB to track brand equity of about 1000 brands continuously.

4. Consumer ID to identify how consumers relate and react to different variables and brands in different product categories.

5. Lincompass developed by Lint-as specialised in rural marketing, a software tool to map the rural markets across the country on various parameters.

6. Mapping Software – ArcView, a knowledge-based intelligence system which depicts 5,87,962 villages as digitized points on maps and can be used for distribution and logistics application, territory planning and dealer development.

There are also a few focus rural market consulting agencies (or organisations) which are involved in carrying out assignments having direct interface with the rural consumers’ consumption related behaviours. Few of these names are MART, O & M Rural Communication Network, Rural Relations, Centre for Rural Business (RB) etc. A specialist organisation in rural research, which uses innovative approaches to conduct rural consumer research.

What is Marketing Research – Advantages

Marketing research has become a very important tool today. Marketing research has several advantages.

They are:

1) It helps the manufacturer to adjust his production according to the conditions of demand.

2) It helps to establish co-relative relationship between the product brand and consumer’s needs and preferences.

3) It helps the manufacturer to secure economies in the distribution of his products.

4) It makes the marketing of goods efficient and economical by eliminating all types of wastage.

5) It helps the manufacturer and dealers to find out the best way of approaching the potential buyers.

6) It guides the manufacturer in planning his advertising and sales promotion efforts.

7) It is helpful in assessing the effectiveness of advertising programs.

8) It is helpful in evaluating selling methods.

9) It reveals the causes of consumer resistance.

10) It minimizes the risks of uncertainties and helps in taking sound decisions.

11) It is helpful in ascertaining the reputation of the firm and its products.

12) It is helpful to the management in determining the actual prices and the price ranges.

13) It is helpful to the management in determining the discount rates.

14) It helps the firm in knowing its market share over various time periods.

15) It is quite helpful to a firm in launching a new product.

What is Marketing Research – Disadvantages: It is not a Panacea, Limitation of Money, Limitation of Money, Limitation of Human Behaviour and a Few Others 

(1) It is not a panacea – Marketing research does not provide solutions to all marketing problems. But offers accurate information, which can be used to arrive at suitable decisions to solve problem.

(2) Limitation of time – Its process is lengthy and needs long time to complete it. During the period between starting the research and implementation of decisions the situation and assumptions may have changed drastically which reduces utility of research report.

(3) Limitation of money – It is considered as a luxury for the management as it involves high cost. Researcher is provided limited money within which he is to complete the research work.

(4) Limitation of skill – It needs great expertise and well trained and experienced researcher, interviewer and investigator as research work needs a lot of statistical work – collection and tabulation of data. Researcher also has to access the reliability of secondary data. It requires a man who is proficient in the work.

(5) Limitation of bias – Limitations of money, time and skill give birth to bias. If the researcher is biased to the problem, the results of such research will be erroneous and the very purpose of marketing research is lost.

(6) Limitation of human behavior – Marketing research studies the behavior of consumers who are rational very often, they do not express their feelings correctly what they think. In such cases, their habits, practice, preferences cannot be assessed correctly. The results are also not correct.

(7) Narrow conception of Marketing Research – Marketing Research is a fact finding exercise. It is not problem-oriented. It is of low and questionable validity.

(8) It is passive – Its use and effectiveness largely depends upon the ability of executives to get the most value of it.