Selecting between Specific Alternatives under consideration

Sears, Roebuck & Company might test a new display in one of its stores before deciding whether to use the display in all of its stores. This is an example of a management faced with selecting between two alternatives under consideration – introduce a new display or make no change.

A few typical examples where managers must select between specific alternatives under consideration might include:

1. Of three proposed advertising copy approaches, which will lead to the largest increase in brand awareness?
2. Which will be most effective in getting consumers to make a trial purchase of a new food product being introduced into retail grocery stores – a small free sample of the product, or a coupon worth 35 cents off the regular tail price?
3. A new apple and cinnamon flavored yoghurt product can be produced in either a smooth or chunky form. Which texture would be more appealing to yoghurt consumers?

In situations such as these, the companies involved may choose to undertake some kind of market or consumer testing. Such testing would likely be much more structured and statistically oriented than the types of research used when describing a problem or identifying an opportunity. Even descriptive research the type of research often used when developing a marketing plan is of little use in these situations because consumers have not yet been exposed to the alternatives under consideration. If they haven’t been exposed to the things being considered, consumers cannot honestly describe how they would react to each of the alternatives under consideration. Consequently, in such situations, some kinds of tests or experiments are likely to be used rather than exploratory or descriptive research.

Specifying the Objectives of this Research:

In situations where managers are trying to choose between two or more alternatives under consideration, the objective of the research is to identify the best alternatives. That is, if the alternatives are designed to increase brand awareness, the objective of the research should be to measure increases in brand awareness in order to identify the alternatives that results in the largest increase in Brand awareness. If the alternatives are designed to encourage making a trial purchase the objective of the research should be to measure trial purchases in order to identify the alternative that results in the most trial purchases.

Listing the needed Information:

Because the information needed in such situations is essentially spelled out in the statement of the research objectives, often there is no need for further details regarding the needed information.

However, managers occasionally may use more complex decisions criteria when choosing between two or more alternatives. For example, when testing two or more proposed advertisements, management may choose as ‘best’ the advertisements that results in both an increase in brand awareness and a more favorable attitude towards the brand. Thus, when the information needed to evaluate the alternatives is not clearly specified as part of the research objectives, it will be necessary for managers and researchers to develop a list of needed information.

Many marketing research projects are concerned with making a choice between two or more alternatives under consideration. The type of research used in those situations often involves experimentation.

Experiments can be fairly simple, as when shoppers in a supermarket are asked to taste flavor A and flavor B and then indicate which they prefer. Experiments can be more complex, as when a product is price tested in 10 similar stores. The product may be priced at 89 cents per package in five of the stores and $1.19 per package in the other five stores. Later, sales volumes in the two sets of stores can be statistically analyzed to determine which of the two prices is better.

Concluding Comments: The foregoing discussion illustrate how different marketing management situations may affect the first three steps of the marketing research process and the types of research eventually undertaken. Some situations, such as trying to define a problem, may only call for informal investigations at the outset. When a company is trying to identify a potential marketing opportunity, it may be most appropriate to use some type of exploratory research. When developing a marketing plan, often managers will want detailed descriptions of certain market or consumer characteristics, and these are usually obtained through descriptive research designs. If managers are faced with choosing between two or more alternatives, they may use experimentation to identify which alternative is preferable.