Development of research design and procedure is the next step. The choice of research design depends on the depth and extent of data required, the costs and benefits of the research, the urgency of the work, and the time available for completing it. Research design is actually the blueprint of the research project and when implemented, it must bring out the information required for solving the identified marketing problem. The research design indicates the method of research (i.e. the method of information gathering), the instruments of the research, the method of sampling etc. Again, it is research design that will largely determine whether the information finally collected by will be relevant to the study, whether the information will be collected in an objective and scientific way, and whether it will be collected at a reasonable cost.
Research procedure springs from research design; it spells out the plan for securing the information market survey is an example of research procedure. It is, in fact, an intricate research procedure. A market survey may not be necessary in most cases for generating the required information. Simpler procedures like desk research of internal data and external published data may be enough.
The research instruments: Research instruments mean the instruments employed for gathering the data/information/response. The questionnaire is one example of a research instrument. In an observation based study, the instruments of research can be a person trained in observation. The instrument can also be a mechanical or electronic device of observation (e.g. tape recorder, video camera). In a survey, usually the instrument of research is the questionnaire. In an experimental type of research, sometimes an observation device is used and sometimes a questionnaire is used.
Customer database helps companies to know their customers individually. With this knowledge, they can customize their products/offers as well as their marketing communications/messages. They can achieve focus in marketing, identify small groups of customers who can form a niche for some of their products and give them fine tuned marketing offers and specific communications.
With a customer database, companies can also install automatic mailing programs, which will send out birthday/anniversary/Christmas/New year greetings, festival shopping reminders and off season promotion schemes. There database will also help the company in making attractive offers on replacement/upgrade of products at the right time after finding out when specific customers might be exactly ready to act in this regard.
A well developed customer database is a proprietary asset of the firm. It can form a substantial competitive edge for the company.
Sources of external secondary data: Publication of a wide variety provides a good deal of external secondary data. Newspaper, magazines, technical journals, trade publications,, directories, government publications, committee reports, reference books, balance sheets of companies and syndicated and published research reports by various MR agencies are sources of external secondary data. Secondary data can also be purchased in some cases from commercial marketing research services. In addition many new sources of secondary data are now becoming available. A few examples are shown.
Only when both internal ad external secondary data is insufficient for the purpose of the given marketing research assignment, efforts need to be made for collecting relevant primary data.
Customer database can also be a component of external secondary data: We noted earlier that customer database is a major component of internal secondary data. In some cases, it also forms a component of external secondary data, as firms not only build, but also store such databases.