Research projects to collect the information

Very often, two or more research projects will be used to collect the information needed when developing a marketing plan. Such projects are likely to be more formal and structured and more large-scale than projects used when defining a problem or identifying an opportunity.

It is necessary to have information on sales and market shares of all competing brands it is likely that commercial marketing research services will be used. Most commercial marketing research services collect their data using very structured research procedures and a number of commercial marketing research services and other secondary sources of information as well.

An example of Research to help develop a Marketing Plan:

A producer of frozen main meal side dishes (e.g. potatoes, au gratin, spinach soufflé, baked macaroni and cheese etc) was developing a marketing plan designed to increase the sales of such side dishes. Management was uncertain as to whether the plan should attempt to attract new users of such products, or to encourage current users of frozen dishes to use the products more often.

To help them resolve this question, they decided to do a descriptive study of consumers who prepared a type of frozen food product in their homes. The specified the following as their list of needed information.

1. How many consumers have heard of frozen main side dishes? Of these, how many are current users and how many are non-users of such products?
2. How often are such products used? When are they used? When used, for what food items are the frozen side dishes a substitute?
3. Why did some consumers try frozen main meal side dishes but not continue to use them?
4. Why have frozen side dishes not been tried by those who are aware of their availability but have never used them?
5. In each of the above questions, how do the results compare among classes by age of consumer, income, number of working adults in the family, family size, and education?

This list of information is tailored to focus on possible decisions about what might be included in the marketing plan being developed.

Item 1 will provide management with awareness and usage information. If awareness is low, management will have information indicating that additional advertising may be needed to increase awareness and to attract new users. If awareness is high and there are many nonusers of these products, management may want to use promotions designed to get nonusers to try the products,

Item 2 may provide management with information regarding possible new uses of frozen side dishes uses that might then be promoted to current users in order it get then mot use the products more often. Item 2 may also provide information about how the products might be advertised to get nonusers to try the product.

Item 3 may identify consumer dissatisfaction with the product or their packaging. If item 1 shows that awareness is high among the many nonusers, item 3 may be able to identify how the products or their packaging must be changed in order to transform nonusers into users. Item 3 may also identify product or packaging changes that might lead current users to use the products more often.

Item 4 may provide management additional information as to how they might improve their marketing or their products in order to get consumers try frozen side dishes.

Item 5 will help management determine if different market segments display different awareness, trial, and usage rates; and if so which kinds of marketing activities might be directed at the various segments.

When developing marketing plans, often it is necessary to obtain information describing certain consumer and market characteristics. Such information may include consumer attitudes and opinions percentage that describe trial and repurchase rates, and still other things. More than likely, this type of descriptive information will be gathered through the use of structured questionnaires and large samples believed to represent the consuming public. —