Marketing research design


Marketing research process is deciding on the research design. There are three types of research designs, namely:

1. Exploratory
2. Descriptive.
3. Causative.

Exploratory Research

It is conducted when the researcher does not know how and why a certain phenomenon occurs, for example, how does the customer evaluate the quality of a bank or a hotel or an airline? While in the case of a manufactured product, quality is assessed on the basis of tangible features, replacement policy, warranty, etc., In the case of services, there are no tangibles. To understand this phenomenon, several researchers have conducted focus group discussions to identify these quality parameters. They have identified variables which they clubbed under five groups. In doing so, they used focus groups.

Since the prime goal of an exploratory research is to know the unknown, this research is unstructured. Focus groups, interviewing key customer groups, experts and even search for printed or published information are some common techniques.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research is carried out to describe a phenomenon or market characteristics. For example, a study to understand buyer behavior and describe characteristics of the target market is a descriptive research. Continuing the above example of service quality, a research done on how customers evaluate the quality of competing service institutions can be considered as an example of descriptive research.

Likewise, research done on media habits and TV viewing habits is an illustration of descriptive research. Generally, descriptive research is carried out only when the researcher understands the phenomena or behavioral characteristics.

Causative Research

Causative research is done to establish a cause and effect relationship like the influence of income and life-style on purchase decision. Here the researcher may like to see the effect of rising income and changing life-style on consumption of select products. He/She may test the hypothesis that as income increases or life-style changes, more elite and state-of-the-art products are likely to be bought. In other words, choice of technology is a function of the customer’s income and life-style. Likewise, a firm may like to test the effect of a 10% raise in its product’s prices. In a causative research, unlike exploratory or descriptive, hypotheses are tested.

Hypothesis is a statement of predicted outcomes of the research. In building up a hypothesis, it is important that the researcher understands the phenomena thoroughly, or a body of research that exists on the subject-matter.

Sources of Data

Once the research design has been decided upon, the next stage is that of selecting the sources of data.
Essentially, there are two sources of data or information—Secondary and Primary

Secondary data

This refers to information that has been collected earlier by someone else. Often this includes printed published reports, news items, industry or trade statistics, etc. This also includes internal documents like invoices, sales reports, payment history of customers, dispatch records, etc., These are important to the researcher as they provide an insight to the problem. Often the preliminary investigation is restricted to secondary data. It may be understood here that this data includes information on competition; customers etc, NRS (National Readership Surveys) give information on the media habits of Indian consumers. Likewise, a research done on household buyer behavior and purchase decisions by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in 1987-88 is a useful source of information.

Thompson Urban and Rural Indices constructed by Hindustan Thompson and Associates are very important in understanding the nature of markets in India. In fact, these are useful indices for the purposes of market planning exercises. Similarly, journals like Business India, Business World, Business Today, Advertising and Marketing(A&M) and other economic and financial newspapers carry features of articles on companies, products, industry, markets etc.

Market Research departments in large organizations or core market research companies must take care to collect the information from authentic sources outlined above. Then they must categorize the information and make the same available for ready reference whenever Research conclusions and consequent reports are needed for different products the organization is planning to market. In the case of core market research firms they must take care to retrieve the information as fast as possible to meet the demands of market reports from other organizations not having their own market research facilities. Such data may help the market planning needs of the organizations seeking the information from core market research firms.