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- Define marketing research and understand its importance.
Marketing research is the systematic design, collection, interpretation, and reporting of information to help marketers solve specific marketing problems or take advantage of marketing opportunities. Marketing research and information systems that furnish practical, unbiased information help firms avoid the assumptions and misunderstandings that could lead to poor marketing performance. The value of marketing research is measured by improvements in a marketer's ability to make decisions.
- Describe the basic steps in conducting market research.
To maintain the control needed to obtain accurate information, marketers approach marketing research as a process with logical steps: (1) defining and locating issues or problems, (2) designing the research project, (3) collecting data, (4) interpreting research findings, and (5) reporting research findings. The first step, issue or problem definition, focuses on uncovering the nature and boundaries of a situation or question related to marketing strategy or implementation. The second step involves designing a research project to obtain needed information, formulating a hypothesis, and determining what type of research to employ that will test the hypothesis so that the results are reliable and valid. The type of hypothesis being tested dictates whether exploratory, descriptive, or causal studies will be used. Research is considered reliable if it produces almost identical results in successive repeated trials; it is valid if it measures what it is supposed to measure and not something else. The third step is the data-gathering phase. To apply research data to decision making, marketers must interpret and report their findings properly-the final two steps in the research process. Statistical interpretation focuses on what is typical or what deviates from the average. After interpreting the research findings, the researchers must prepare a report on the findings that the decision makers can understand and use.
- Explore the fundamental methods of gathering data for marketing research.
For the third step in the marketing research process, two types of data are available. Primary data are observed and recorded or collected directly from subjects; secondary data are compiled inside or outside the organization for some purpose other than the current investigation. Secondary data may be collected from an organization's database and other internal sources, or from periodicals, government publications, and unpublished sources. Methods for collecting primary data include sampling, surveys, observation, and experimentation. Sampling involves selecting representative units from a total population. In probability sampling, every element in the population being studied has a known chance of being selected for study. Nonprobability sampling is more subjective because there is no way to calculate the likelihood that a specific element of the population being studied will be chosen. Marketing researchers employ sampling to collect primary data through surveys by mail, telephone, or the Internet, or through personal or group interviews. A carefully constructed questionnaire is essential to the success of any survey. In using observation methods, researchers record respondents' overt behavior and take note of physical conditions and events, but avoid direct contact with respondents. In an experiment, marketing researchers attempt to maintain certain variables while measuring the effects of experimental variables.
- Describe how tools such as databases, decision support systems, and the Internet facilitate marketing information systems and research.
Many firms use computer technology to create a marketing information system (MIS), which is a framework for gathering and managing information from sources both inside and outside an organization. A database is a collection of information arranged for easy access and retrieval. A marketing decision support system (MDSS) is customized computer software that aids marketing managers in decision making by helping them anticipate what effect certain decisions will have. The World Wide Web also enables marketers to communicate with customers and obtain information.
- Identify key ethical and international considerations in marketing research.
Eliminating unethical marketing research practices and establishing generally acceptable procedures for conducting research are important goals of marketing research. International marketing uses the same marketing research process, but data-gathering methods may require modification to address differences.