Whenever managers feel uneasy or uncertain about making a decision: they may decide to gather additional information that will reduce uncertainty. The procedures used to collect the information should be ones that will result in information that is both valid and reliable. To help acquire valid and reliable information, they are likely to use a series of steps referred to collectively as the marketing research process.
In planning and designing a specific research project, it is necessary to anticipate all the steps that must be undertaken if the project is to be successful in collecting valid and reliable information. If it were broken down into very small parts or activities, the marketing research process would consist of a great number of steps. On the other hand, if we cluster the various steps according to major activities, we can view the marketing research process as consisting of the following seven steps:
1. Specifying research objectives
2. Preparing a list of the needed information
3. Designing the data collection project
4. Selecting a sample type
5. Determine sample size
6. Organizing and carrying out the fieldwork
7. Analyzing the collected data and reporting the findings
These steps are not a contrived sequence of independent steps; they consist of a number of interrelated activities. Each step depends to some extent on each of the others, and the first step must be planned with the second, third, and remaining steps in mind. For example, one must have a good understanding of the research objectives in order to identify the information needed to achieve the research objectives. The form and content of the needed information strongly affects the questionnaire which in turn affects how the collected data will be analyzed.
If not properly signed each in the research process can be a potential source of error. Some of the potential sources of error that can be associated with the steps in the research process and how these sources of error can cause problems in achieving scientific methodology.
The detailed descriptions point out some of the sources of error that might be encountered during each step.
Specifying Research Objectives: In this step of the research process researchers must first obtain answers to the questions. What is the purpose of this study? and what are the objectives of the research? If these questions are not properly answered at the outset, the study is likely to be misdirected and to pursue vague or obscure goals. The probable result will be that the collected data will not be as valid and/or reliable as desired.
Problems in achieving the Scientific Method: When requesting a research projects, manager may hope that the survey will show results favorable to the manager’s personal inclinations or intentions In such situations, the manager probably has a good idea of what he or she intends to do but would like some research findings that would support the decision. Because the manager wants and expects the research findings to support his or her intended decision, there is a good chance that the manager will not provide the researchers a clear statement of the real problem.
Minimizing Potential Sources of Error:
Perhaps the best way to identify specific research objectives is to put them in written form. The manager and the researcher can then discuss the written statements, modifying it where necessary. After it has been approved both by the manager and the researcher, it can serve as the researcher’s guide to what the manager expects from the research.
Clearly, this step in the research process must involve both the manager and the researcher. One source of research error is a poorly conceived study. Much of the responsibility for specifying research objectives necessarily lies with the manager. Researchers cannot be expected to answer such questions as what is the purpose of this study with out a great deal of assistance. Hence, if this step in the research process is not to be a major source of error, the manager and the researcher must collaborate in clear and precise identification of the study objectives.