Basic Methods of Collecting Data

One of the early Japanese invaders of the American car market was the Datsun. Later it changed its name to Nissan but continued to compete successfully. In 1987 Nissan sold 753,000 cars and trucks to US buyers, but this was a drop of 3 percent from the previous year. The decline was a matter of some concern to the management.

A survey among US car buyers found that Nissan had no clear image in the market. When car buyers were asked to identify Nissan, many showed lingering confusion over the name change from Datsun. Some buyers thought that Nissan was part of Toyota. There was more confusion over model names such as Maxima and Sentra; consumers thought these were cameras and wristwatches.

Pontiac stands for performance and Honda for quality, but Nissan doesn’t have a strong corporate image. There is no reason for people to be predisposed to buy Nissan.

On the basis of these findings Nissan planned a TV advertising campaign. Not just trying to sell a Maxima or Sentra (but) to tell viewers what Nissan is. The result was the now well known theme “Built for the Human Race”.

The survey mentioned above told the Nissan management they had a problem and, on the basis of that information, they committed tens of millions of dollars to an advertising campaign to correct the problem. Clearly the management had confidence in the survey data.

No matter what the basic design of a research study, it is necessary to collect accurate data to achieve useful results. For this reason, it is helpful to consider methods of collecting data and the quality of information they may be expected to produce. Questioning and observation are the two basics methods of collecting data in marketing research. Questioning as the name suggests, is distinguished by the fact that data are collected by asking questions of people who are thought to have the desired information. Questions may be asked in person or in writing. A formal list of such questions is called a questionnaire.

When data are collected by observation, researchers ask no questions. Instead they keep track of the objects or actions in which they are interested. Sometimes individuals make the observation; on other occasions, mechanical devices note and record the desired information. Observations may be made of objects such as the number of signs for a given company, or of people and their activities. No matter what research design is sued, the necessary data are collected by one or both of these two methods.

General Accuracy of data Collected

Surveys have become so commonplace in today’s world that the average person seldom questions the idea that useful information can be obtained in this manner. The fact that findings of one type or another are developed ands usually seem plausible furthers this acceptance. When formal efforts are made to check the accuracy of survey data, however, the results are often disquieting.

If interviewers simply take the first adult they reach, they will end up with more women and older adults than these two groups represent in the population. Accordingly, some more controlled method should be provided unless any adult is satisfactory for the purpose of the specific study. For most studies a procedure that provides proper balance on age and sex is satisfactory.

One result must try to strike the best balance possible for a given study between cooperation by respondents and a procedure that will provide a representative sample.