Marketing Research FAQs

Why Do You Need Marketing Research?

Below are some prime situations where marketing research can be of value to the success of your business:

  • Determining the viability of a new market for your company to enter.
  • Estimating market size/share/adoption rate for investment or business planning.
  • Identifying new product/service opportunities and value-added offerings.
  • Risk management - identifying what risks pose the greatest threat to your business.
  • Understanding what customers expect of you and how well you are delivering.
  • Root cause analysis for lost business or customer defections.
  • Identifying your most profitable customer segments and how to protect them.
  • Developing the right price points/identifying bundling opportunities.
  • SWOT intelligence on competitors to plan business strategies/identify M&A scenarios.
  • Understanding how customers perceive your market positioning relative to competitors.
  • Determining the most effective marketing/advertising channels to support your business.

When Do You Need to Do Marketing Research?

Here are some scenarios and trigger points that tell you the time is right for marketing research:

  • You have zero, limited, conflicting, or even suspect information about a business issue that needs to be addressed now.
  • You know or sense that all is not right with your customers - or distributors - or suppliers or partners or investors
  • You are losing ground to competitors, but are not sure why.
  • You need to perform due diligence for M&A or divestiture planning.
  • Groups or individuals within your company do not recognize the existence of a problem or its magnitude, and you need independent validation.

What Are the Basic Types of Marketing Research?

Primary and Secondary Research

This is the most fundamental division of research practices. Primary research refers to original or custom research - gathering information from original sources. It is usually proprietary to a client and not made available to the marketplace. This type of research is our forte at J Arnold & Associates.

Secondary research involves the compiling of information from existing or published sources. These sources can be internal or external. Internal would be your customer databases, historical files, etc. External would involve searches for published information. Typical sources include newspapers, trade publications, associations, industry reports, and of course, the Internet.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Primary research is basically divided into these two categories. In essence, qualitative research addresses emotional issues, while quantitative is based more on reason or logic.

Qualitative research methods strive to understand how people feel or to tap their creative juices. Quantitative techniques are applied to generate meaningful metrics that clearly define the magnitude of a response. For example, qualitative research would uncover how people feel about an issue, whereas quantitative research would measure how strongly they feel about it.

When planning a study or defining its objectives, the consultant must first determine which approach is best suited - qualitative or quantitative. Sometimes only one will suffice, and other times, both are needed. Once determined, the most appropriate methodology needs to be chosen. The most commonly used methods are summarized below.

Qualitative Methods Quantitative Methods
Focus groups (ideal size 4-6 people) Telephone interviews
Mini groups (fewer people or shorter duration) Self administered mail surveys
One-on-one in-depth personal interviews Online sources - via email or websites
Paired in-depth interviews Electronic surveys - compliled on diskette
Advisory panels Real time moment-to-moment
(primarily for media research)

What Marketing Research Methods Will Be Best for My Situation?

Comparative Summary of Marketing Research Methods

Why Outsource Marketing Research?

While J Arnold & Associates is in business to conduct marketing research, we are also consultants, and that role sometimes is purely advisory. There are many cases where you can plan and execute the work, and to keep costs down, we encourage this as much as possible. We are happy to play this role to whatever extent you feel comfortable, whether it be sampling advice, questionnaire design, recruiting, data analysis, or general project management.

In most cases, however, J Arnold & Associates is contracted to design and execute marketing research in its entirety. Aside from not having the in-house research expertise, there are many reasons why you may choose to outsource. Some of the more common factors are as follows:

  • You need to be sure the research is conducted properly by professionals.
  • You have a timetable, and need to know the work will be done to schedule.
  • Some internal resources are available, but none will be dedicated to getting this work done to your satisfaction.
  • You need to have accurate, reliable information to support major decisions.
  • You need an objective perspective to get unbiased answers.
  • You want strategic insights that bring to bear experiences within your industry at large.
  • Findings will be reported to external stakeholders, so you need a recognized authority.
  • Research will not have any internal credibility if done in-house.

Marketing Research Myths

Marketing research is not well understood, especially for business-to-business marketers. Some of the more common myths are listed below, and you may be familiar with them. Over the years, we have seen many, and our view is that these myths should not get in the way of you seeing fair value in using marketing research.

If any of these myths apply to your situation, we'd like to hear from you! Frankly, none of these should turn you away from marketing research, especially if you understand the full range of applications to your business.

  • Marketing research is complex all smoke and mirrors. Cannot trust what you do not understand.
  • Research is highly technical - our management will never be able to relate to it.
  • Do not see any ROI - not tied to any measures of value or tangible outcomes that drive our business, like increasing sales, reducing costs, or improving margins.
  • Our industry is very complex - research people don't understand our business and could not possibly help us.
  • Takes too long to do - not helpful for our fast changing business.
  • No one in our industry does any, and we're doing just fine. Just don't see the point.
  • Research only confirms what we already know - we know what our customers want.
  • Only important for sales/marketing - it's not a management tool.
  • We tried doing research in-house - it wasn't very helpful and no one read the report.
  • We used a research supplier once - did not work out, haven't bothered since.

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