Marketing research has its limitations. Marketing researchers and marketing executives must be aware of them. First, marketing search does not by itself provide the final solution to problems; it only provides the indicators. It also qualifies its statements with several riders. Second, errors can creep in the findings of MR. We have seen that errors can do creep in the sampling procedure, in the choice of the research methodology and in the research design itself. Errors can occur in computation and analysis also. While safeguards can be applied so as to minimize these errors, it is limitation in any marketing research work.
Third, in many cases, the marketing research process can be quite extensive. Fourth, marketing research has a limitation in terms of the time element as well. Marketing being a very dynamic task, its problems have to be treated with quick solutions. If marketing research involves undue delays and time lags, then the solution obtained can become irrelevant in the caged situation. Fifth, research findings are and with reference to a given marketing effort, known performance of competitors, known policies of government, etc. If one or more of these elements change, as they often do, research results may not remain valid. Lastly marketing research also has the tendency to overrate the usefulness of its own findings. All numerical data have their limitations. There are several aspects, which cannot be reduced to numerical figures.
A few useful General Observations:
Marketing research has to be integrated with the marketing function and made a part of the problem solving process in marketing. The researcher and the executive should appreciate each other’s roles. The executive need not be an expert in MR, but he must be familiar with its scope and methods, since he is the person who uses it. There should be close involvement of researchers with the decision environment, and of executives with the research process. The researcher must be supplied with the full background needed for attacking the problem involved. This is true irrespective of whether an in-house department does the research work or an external MR agency does it. In the latter case, close client research agency partnership is needed.
A question that is often raised is whether a firm should rely on its in-house research department, or outsource the services from external MR agencies. Both arrangements have their advantages. Firms should actually go in for both in a suitable proportion. Firms must, however, pick agencies with good, proven models and good fieldwork capability, and stay involved with agencies all through the fieldwork.
Finally, there is a great need for marketing research to shift from findings to insights and solutions. Similarly, it has to shift from mere data collection to solution-led work. It has to shift from looking at the present /past to looking at the future. More over, market research is being used mostly as a relative tool. It should instead be used to guide the company into the future.
Properly managed, Focus Groups can be very useful:
While the problems mentioned above do cloud the efficacy of focus groups, the fact remains that properly managed, they can be useful. For example, if the agency recruits the recruiter properly many of the respondent related problems might vanish. Often, it is because recruiters employed are unscrupulous, the respondent related problem comes up. Such recruiters not only send in respondents who are unsuitable, but also bring professional respondents. Sometimes they also coach the respondents talk according to a particular plan.
Second, clients often want focus groups be put in place at short notice, while it takes a certain minimum time output together a good group. When this problem is sorted out jointly by the clients and the agency; the respondents related problem will automatically becomes less pronounced Client’s unwillingness to incur the necessary expenses is another cause here. Agencies adapt way, skipping all the back checks are needed. This problem has to be jointly tackled by the client and the agency.
The moderator must be:
1. Able to build a good rapport with respondents and create feelings of openness with them based on mutual trust.
2. Well versed in moderation and interviewing techniques
3. Skilled in handling group dynamics and keeping the discussion focused
4. Skilled in questioning/probing and in interpreting body language/non-verbal signals
5. Skilled in handling problem participants
6. Free of bias