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Related documents:
Searching for Company Information, Search Strategies and Design
Competitive Intelligence, Search Strategies and Design
Case Study Research, Search Strategies and Design
Internet Discussion Groups: Research Resource and Research Tool, Search Strategies and Design

Related resources:
Marketing Research, Electronic Sources and Resources


Approaches to Marketing Research

The goal of marketing research is to understand a market well enough to predict the success or failure of a product, service, or relationship in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Succesful marketing will depend on:

The objective of marketing research, then, is:

To accomplish that objective and thus, meet our goal, we need to gather a wide variety of data and information.

Basic marketing texts often quote the "Ps", a series of words which encapsulate those factors which must be sufficiently researched and properly balanced for the achievement of success, as the starting point for marketing research:

If you are marketing services, some texts add:

to the mix. If you are concentrating on relationship marketing, you might also add: partnerships.

The mix you pursue, and the emphasis on one factor over another may change depending upon the type of marketing (product, service, relationship, or some combination) and the nature of the product, service or relationship. However, certain pieces of information -- and therefore, some fundamental search approaches, sources and resources -- will likely be useful to you.

Competitive Intelligence

CI refers to the process of gathering publicly available data / information on markets, competitors, industry, and other stakeholders with a view to enhancing a company's (or organization's or individual's) knowledge and capability to respond appropriately. In many cases, CI is an integral part of market research. For more information, please see Competitive Intelligence and related documents including Searching for Company Information.

Target Market

Determine the basic nature of your target market. Are you primarily interested in:

No matter what the nature of your target market, a profile may be valuable. For instance, if you choose to market to consumers, this profile might describe the class of person to which you expect to market (sell) your product. The class is defined using existing experience and required and desired parameters. Data concerning a relevant population are acquired and then searched for individuals whose characteristics comply with the profile. Those individuals are then targeted.To accomplish the task of defining the class of person in which you are interested, an aggregate demographic profile would be established. Such a profile would likely include aspects such as geography, age, gender, disposible income, education, and the like. The search approach -- to gather relevant statistics, for instance -- may include a broader to narrower pattern, such as:

Depending upon what is being marketed, personal consumer characteristics to consider might include:

Acquiring Data and Information

You can acquire data and information relevant to marketing research in a variety of ways.

First, you might pursue your own qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research methods include: observation; interviews (structured or in-depth); focus groups (interviews and observation); document studies; case studies; key informants; action research; behavioural research; and field studies. Quantitative and/or statistical research methods include sampling and data analysis, and often involve the design and implementation of survey instruments.

For more information, please see: Research Methodology, and Marketing Research: Research Guides

Second, you might use research undertaken by governments and others and made freely available electronically or in print. Many government departments and agencies in Canada and elsewhere collect data useful to those performing market research. Significant portions of this data may be readily accessible. Additionally, organizations and industry associations focused on particular products or services may prove useful sources of statistics, suggested consumers, and information on potential partners and competitors.

Third, for a fee, government departments or agencies may produce custom data on request, tailored to your specifications. For instance, Statistics Canada will produce custom-designed maps, provide data analysis, and even help you plan surveys and interpret the results.

Fourth, data produced through surveys and other research instruments developed and administered by third parties may also be commissioned and/or purchased.

Raw data collected by qualitative or quantitative research is usually deemed to be primary research. Such data is created contemporaneously with an event, such as a focus group or a completed survey. Primary research likely presents a single opinion or agenda (that of the observer or recorder). Secondary research, when presented in books, periodicals and other published sources, has often undergone an editing and review process. Such research usually presents an interpretation and analysis of an event or series of events, and introduces a secondary bias.

Searching bibliographic databases is one approach to identifying and accessing secondary research relating to marketing. Such databases may require a subscription; others are publicly available.

Some of the subscribed databases (restricted to those with a UNB email and PIN) which you may find helpful include: Business Source Premier; [Elsevier] Science Direct; and Emerald

For a list of subscribed electronic resources available to UNB users, please see: e-Resources

Tertiary research resources also provide helpful information to those performing market research. Tertiary resources include: many ready reference materials (encyclopedias, compendia, directories, dictionaries, bibliographies); newswires and other news services; and numerous types of web based materials (faqs, site maps, advertising, news and events). Tertiary resources will often provide needed factual answers to closed questions (who, what, when, where), pointers to more in-depth resources (in the form of citations, for instance), and current information on events, products, services, organizations, and the like.

For publicly accessible materials of interest, please see: Marketing Research, Electronic Sources and Resources.

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Created: 2006/01/31 Last updated: 2010/09/02
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