When a company decides to develop a new product or considers a new marketing strategy, it is important to know more about the consumers. The activities to know more about the consumers are called marketing research. Better products or services that are more likely to be well-received by the consumers can be developed and sold through the most suitable channels by analyzing their opinions and understanding them as consumer needs before starting product development or promotional activities. And marketing research can also reduce the risk of wasting financial resources on developing products that are not well-received by the consumers.
There are also merits for the consumers. By cooperating in a marketing research, they can support the development of products they would like to see on the market and prevent products that won’t sell well from being developed and therefore the costs of these being added to existing products they do want to buy.
During the marketing research activities of a company, for each step in the above marketing process various issues arise.
The necessary marketing research activities will be different depending on the phase and challenge. The right marketing research activities can support in making decisions regarding the challenges that appear at each phase and can be useful in the marketing strategy.
However, marketing research is just a tool for companies and people to solve challenges and is not considered to be a goal. Therefore it is dangerous to think that everything will be OK as long as you do marketing research. It is extremely important to plan how you will use the research data to solve the marketing challenges and issues.
There are various opinions but is considered that market research is “Understanding the market situation through numbers and data” and marketing research is “Understanding the market situation through numbers and data, and predict and examine the future development of the market.” Market research is about the present, while marketing research is about the present and the future. Therefore we can say that market research is part of marketing research.
However, since the Japanese translation of marketing research is ‘market research’, many believe that both are the same and there is no clear distinction between these. In the first stage of the marketing process, it is important to understand the current situation of the market, so market research has strong significance in this phase. In the later phases, it is necessary to predict the future during development of the product, how the service/product will perform and in this case marketing research will have strong significance.
Consumers and companies all have challenges and needs, and marketing helps in the thinking process of how to deliver the products and services to the consumers in order to answer those challenges and needs. Marketing research is a method to solve marketing challenges. Fig. 1 shows how they are related.
Fig 1. How marketing research and market research are related
Fig 2. Story leading up to the solution of the problem and points where marketing research is required.
In figure 2 you see an image of a flow to solve problems of companies or individuals. Marketing research will be needed for the following phases: ‘understand the current situation’, ‘set up a hypotheses of the solution’, ‘test the hypotheses’, ‘solve problem’.
※Please click the button below to find out what kind of marketing research will be needed for each phase.
There are two types of research when conducting marketing research.
※ASMARQ can only conduct consumer research
Furthermore, the data can be divided into ‘quantitative’ (numerical data) and ‘qualitative’ (words and opinions) data.
For example, when asking ‘for how much would you buy this piece of clothing’, this would become quantitative data, while the answers to ‘why would you want to buy this piece of clothing’ would be considered as qualitative data.
Surveys to collect numerical data quantitatively are called quantitative research, and surveys to collect data qualitatively are called qualitative research. Generally surveys are used for quantitate research, and interviews are used for qualitative research.
This is a method where they take surveys online and is the most common method. With this method, it is possible to collect as many answers as possible in a short amount of time. This is also known as internet research/internet surveys.
Test-products will be sent to the respondent’s house, and a survey will be taken after having used the product for a certain period in their daily lives. This is mainly effective for products like make-up or everyday products.
The survey will be conducted with respondents who gather at a certain venue. This is especially suitable for taste tests and commercial evaluations.
Paper surveys are sent to the respondents and the respondents send them back after completing them.
The researcher or respondent will go to the store pretending to be a client, and evaluates the customer service level, cleanliness, sales promotions etc. based on a survey.
The researches visit the houses one by one in a certain area and collect surveys from the residents. This method is effective to collect surveys from a certain area, when it is impossible to get enough samples through online surveys.
The researches collect surveys in a popular area from passersby. It is difficult to monitor the criteria, so it is important to be careful not to collect too many of certain quota.
A moderator conducts a group interview with about 6 respondents discussing a certain theme. This makes it possible to get a lot of interesting opinions due to the group dynamics.
The moderator conducts a one-on-one interview with the respondent. Since there are no other respondents, the respondent will be more comfortable talking about more personal topics.
The researchers will visit the respondent’s house and observe his/her lifestyle. It is also possible to collect pictures of their houses and obtain visual information.
The respondents post information, thoughts, pictures surrounding a certain topic to a platform like a diary. The data obtained from this is different per research. It is important to figure out the 5 W1H (when, where, who, what, why, how) before the research.
Furthermore, the research changes depending on the challenges and the purpose. Depending on the situation, there are cases where it is better to conduct a hybrid research combining quantitative and qualitative research.
After deciding on the challenge and goal of the research and clarifying what kind of data will be needed, we now proceed to designing the actual research plan. The process goes as follows.
Fig 3.: The flow of the standard marketing research process
|When?||October (if company A wants to start production from November, then the research should be finished by then|
|Where?||Tokyo (Tokyo is the most visited place in Japan by visitors, and the HQ is also in Tokyo)|
|Who?||Foreign visitors in Japan (since there are no other criteria, there won’t be any criteria on nationality, gender and age)|
|What?||The concept of prototype B (In case the concept doesn’t do well, it’s best to have 2 or 3 options)|
|How?||Interviewing foreign visitors in the shopping district (online surveys are also an option, but it’s best to hear it from their mouths)|
|How long?||About 10-15 questions (since we will stop and ask them on the streets, it’s best to keep the survey short)|
When actually conducting the research, there will be other topics that need to be looked at.
After getting the details together about the 5W1H, we will decide on the above.
Marketing research is the initiative that’s necessary to solve problems from companies and individuals