1. 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

2. 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

3. 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 Online surveys self-completed at a dedicated site
Advisory panels Real time moment-to-moment
(primarily for media research)

4. What Marketing Research Methods Will Be Best for My Situation?

5. 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