Q1. Explain in details the process of marketing research
Marketing research is “the function that links the consumers, customers, and public to the marketer through information — information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications. How the market research project is conceived, planned, and executed is answered through a research process, consisting of stages or steps that guide the project from its conception through the final analysis, recommendation and ultimate action. The research process provides a systematic, planned approach to the research project and ensures that all aspects of the research project are consistent with each other. There are six steps that encompass the overall development of the Marketing process are as follows:
* Step 1: Define Objective and problem: The first step in any marketing research project is to define the problem. In defining the problem, the researcher should take into account the purpose of the study, the relevant background information, what information is needed, and how it will be used in decision making. Defining a research problem properly and clearly is a crucial part of a research study and must in no case be accomplished hurriedly. However, in practice this a frequently overlooked which causes a lot of problems later on. Hence, the research problem should be defined in a systematic manner, giving due weight age to all relating points. The technique for the purpose involves the undertaking of the following steps generally one after the other: 1) Statement of the problem in a general way; First of all the problem should be stated in a broad general way, keeping in view either some practical concern or some scientific or intellectual Interest. For this purpose, the researcher must immerse himself thoroughly in the subject matter concerning which he wishes to pose a problem. 2) Understanding the nature of the problem: The next step in defining the problem is to understand its origin and nature clearly.
The best way of understanding the problem is to discuss it with those who first raised it in order to find out how the problem originally came about and with what objectives in view. He can enter into discussion with those who have a good knowledge of the problem concerned or similar other problems. The researcher should also keep in view the environment within which the problem is to be studied and understood 3) Surveying the available literature: All available literature concerning the problem at hand must necessarily be surveyed and examined before a definition of the research problem is given. This means that the researcher must be well-conversant with relevant theories in the field, reports and records as also all other relevant literature. 4) Developing the ideas through discussions: Discussion concerning a problem often produces useful information. Various new ideas can be developed through such an exercise. Hence, a researcher must discuss his problem with his colleagues and others who have enough experience in the same area or in working on similar problems.
* Step 2: Research proposal
After a problem has been chosen, the next task is to formulate it precisely. Formulation implies a clear statement or definition of the problem. The researcher must sit to rephrase the research problem into a working proposition. A proposal is known as a work plan, prospectus, outline, statement of intent, or draft plan. The proposal tells us what, why, how, where, and to whom it will be done. The proposal of research is:
* To present the management question to be researched and its importance. * To discuss the research efforts of others who have worked on related management questions. * To suggest the data necessary for solving the management question and how the data will be gathered, treated, and interpreted.
* Step 3: Determining the research design:
A research design is the plan or strategy, which helps in arranging the resources required for research purpose. It acts as a path or blueprint for the researcher. In other words, it is the advanced planning of the steps to be adapted for collection of relevant data and techniques to be used in their analysis keeping different time and budget constraint in mind. Along with the population to be surveyed, size of sample, tools for analyzing data, interpretation of data, it also includes the budget and the time constraints too. The research design can be grouped into three categories- exploratory, descriptive and causal research.
An exploratory research focuses on the discovery of ideas and is generally based on secondary data. It is preliminary investigation which does not have a rigid design. This is because a researcher engaged in an exploratory study may have to change his focus as a result of new ideas and relationship among the variables. A descriptive study is undertaken when the researcher wants to know the characteristics of certain group such as age, sex, educational level, income, occupation, etc. In contrast to exploratory studies, descriptive studies are well structured. A causal research is undertaken when the researcher is interested in knowing the cause and effect relationship between two or more variables. Such studies are based on reasoning along well tested lines. The Design decision is in respect to following terms:
* What is the study about?
* Why to study a particular topic?
* Where the study will be conducted?
* Techniques to collect the relevant data?
* What will be the sample design?
* How will the data be analyzed?
* What is the time required?
* What is the allocated Budget?
The important elements of a research design are:
* Introduction: The Research proposal should define the research problem and the researcher‘s precise interest in studying it. In other words it deals with the scope of study. * Statement of the problem: It includes the formulation of problem which actually explains the objective of research. * Literature Review: It includes a review of different literatures and articles related to objective of study. It is performed to get all the information‘s and researches done on the topic earlier. * Scope of Study: A complete study of any problem is difficult to study as it would entail an overwhelming amount of data. Therefore, the scope and dimensions of the study should be delimited with reference to its depth, length, and geographical area to be covered, reference period, respondents to be studied and many other different issues. We should consider the time frames decided for the study and should finish it within the same time slot. * Objective of Study: The questions to which the researcher proposes to seek answers through the study, comes under objectives.
* Conceptual Model: After completing the above steps the researcher formulates and develops the structure of relationships among the variables under investigation. * Hypotheses: A hypothesis is a specific statement of prediction. They refer to different possible outcomes. * Operational definition of concepts: It involves the different techniques used in exploratory and descriptive research in operational terms. * Significance of study: It is a careful statement of the value of the study and the possible applications of its findings which helps to justify purpose of study, its importance and social relevance. * Geographical area to be covered: The territorial area to be covered depends on the purpose, nature of study and availability of resources. It should be decided and specified in the research plan. * Reference Period: This refers to the time period of which the data is analyzed.
Also it depends on the availability of data. * Sampling Plan: It is the study that requires collection of data from the fields, and then we should decide the population to be selected for study and the sampling design. * Tools for Gathering data: Personal and Telephonic Interviews, Questionnaire, checklist are different tools for data collection. * Plan of Analysis: This includes the statistical techniques used for editing, coding and analysis of data. * Chapter Scheme: The chapter scheme of report or dissertation should be prepared to give the outlines and the studies of the research conducted. * Time Budget: The time period of research should be decided in advance and the research work should not exceed the time limits. This leads to loss of resources and extra cost is involved. * Financial Budget: The cost of the project includes major categories like salary, printing, Stationery, postage, travels expenses etc.
* Step 4: Data collection
Once we are past the designing stage we have to determine what way we are going to collect the data. Data is of two types Primary and secondary. The marketing researcher has to decide whether he has to collect primary data or spend exclusively on secondary data. Sometimes, the research study is based on both secondary and primary data. Secondary data The data that are already available is called Secondary data. It has already been collected and analyzed by someone else. Secondary data may be published data or unpublished data. The published data are usually available in books, magazines, reports and publications of various associations, reports prepared by research scholars, economists, universities etc.
The unpublished data may be found in diaries, letters, unpublished biographies and also may be available with the research scholars, trade associations and other public / private individuals and organizations. The researcher must do the minute scrutiny because it may be possible that the secondary data may be unsuitable or may be inadequate in the context of the problem the researcher wants to study. Primary data: it is the data gathered by the researcher for the purpose of the project/research at hand. It is the data collected by the researcher for the first time in respect to specific purpose Once the decision in favour or collection of primary data is taken one has to decide the mode of collection. Primary data could be collected through:
* Observation methods: This method suggests that data are collected through one’s observation. If the researcher is a keen observer, with integrity he would be in a position to observe and record data faithfully and accurately. * Interview method: – interview is a type of discussion between two or more people for a definite purpose. It is the most powerful method of data collection. It helps us to gather valid and reliable data related to the research objective. It is divided into two parts: personal interview and telephonic interview. * Collection of data through questionnaires
A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. Questionnaire-based surveys are one of the most common tools used by market researchers to establish consumer preferences. This stage involves a lot of fieldwork and Supervision of fieldwork is equally important to ensure timely and proper completion of the field survey.
* Step 5: Data structuring and analysis
After collecting data, they must be classified and presented in meaningful forms to have better insight of a research problem. Once the information is tabulated, it is easy to perform various statistical tests for their validity, accuracy and significance. Gathered information should be presented in such a manner that even a layman understands what, why, when and how of information. Once the field survey is over and questionnaires have been received, the next task is to aggregate the data in a meaningful manner. A number of tables are prepared to bring out the main characteristics of the data. The researcher should have a well thought of framework for processing and analyzing data, and this should be done prior to the collection. It is advisable to prepare dummy tables; as such an exercise would indicate the nature and extent of tabulation as also the comparisons of data that can be undertaken. In order to derive meaningful results from the statistical table, the researcher may use one or more of the following four steps:
I. The first step is to calculate relevant majors of central tendency as also of dispersion, highlighting the major aspects of the data. II. The second is to cross tabulate the data to ascertain some useful relationships. III. The third is to calculate the correlation coefficient and undertake a regression analysis between variables. IV. The fourth is to undertake a multivariate analysis. Such an analysis uses a variety of techniques to determine important relationships amongst several variables. While designing a research study, the researcher should give adequate thought to the use of particular analytical techniques. In the recent years, many such analytical techniques have proliferated due to the emergence of the computer. The researcher now has access to an increasing assortment of techniques and it is desirable to know well in advance as to what analytical techniques are going to be used, so that the data can be collected accordingly. It is necessary that the researcher give as much importance to the analysis and interpretation of the data as he has given to their collection. In the absence of proper analysis, data may be rendered useless resulting in a waste of time and money. * Step 6: Report preparation and presentation
The entire project should be documented in a written report which addresses the specific research questions identified, describes the approach, the research design, data collection, and data analysis procedures adopted, and present the results and the major findings. The findings should be presented in a comprehensible format so that they can be readily used in the decision making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact. All the effort that goes into designing an approach, developing a research design, collecting data and finally analyzing the data, completely goes waste, if the findings and the results are not presented properly. It is imperative that the whole marketing research project be properly documented and accounted for. The entire purpose of the research campaign is to enable the higher management to make informed decisions which will benefit the progress and the sales of the concerned product or service. Hence, it is crucial that the research findings be presented accurately, clearly and relevantly. For this purpose, the use of appropriate statistics, graphs, pie-charts, etc. is recommended.
Conclusion: The marketing research process, as described above, involves various steps, though strict adherence to each of these steps may not be necessary. A researcher may deviate from the above sequence and steps depending on his specific needs. It should be remembered that as research proceeds from the selection of the theme through the collection and analysis of data to the preparation of a report, the focus of attention will move from one activity to the other. This implies that the researcher does not always concentrate exclusively on one particular phase of research until its completion.
Further, while it is beneficial to draw a detailed plan and sequence of various activities in marketing research, it is hardly so if it requires such financial backing as the firm cannot afford. There is no point in attempting something which cannot be completed on account of financial constraints or limitations of time. Another point worth emphasizing is that howsoever elaborate a research design may be, its successful implementation depends in no small measure on its management. In fact, management of research, whether in marketing or in any other field, attaches a great importance for success in every aspect in the marketing field.