What is research? For purposes of this article, research is a comprehensive and systematic study of a problem.
When discussing marketing management, two uses of research are often used interchangeably — marketing research and market research. Are these terms really the same or are they referring to different processes? In this article, Research Optimus focuses on the similarities and differences between these two important business marketing concepts.
Definitions and Scope of Market Research vs Marketing Research
Definitions — Market research involves collecting and analyzing information about marketing programs, competitors and consumers. As defined by Philip Kotler, marketing research (MR) involves fact-finding, model building and analysis designed to improve marketing of goods and services. According to Richard D. Crisp, MR consists of studying facts related to any marketing problem.
Scope — Market research is the narrower of the two because it involves research that is concentrated on specific market situations. Marketing research encompasses the “big picture” by dealing with all aspects of research into product development and distribution. MR can include public relations, advertising, pricing, and promotion research. Market research is usually thought of as a subset of marketing research.
Objectives of Market Research
The amount of time and effort that businesses should devote to market research depends primarily on the type of information needed and the company’s market research objectives — these objectives will typically include one or more of the following:
- List Building — Compiling data about prospective buyers (especially important for direct marketing).
- Pricing Decisions — Testing price points, loyalty programs, features, packaging and quality.
- Customer Satisfaction — Measuring customer perceptions and the quality of the customer experience.
- Product Testing — A key to assembling your future product lineup.
- Planning for Communication Channels — Finding out what information sources customers use and how to communicate to each of the sources.
- Market Competition — Evaluating current and potential competitors.
- Customer Insights — Assessing customer buying behavior and decision processes.
- Market Evaluation — Analyzing potential sales volume.
Importance of Marketing Research
The ultimate goal in marketing research is to gain a thorough understanding of potential customers. Perhaps the biggest marketing research challenge is to “fill the gap” between consumer “answers” and the “reasoning” behind buyer responses. This is almost always a “slippery slope” — individuals do not always know what is actually motivating them to make a buying decision. Without marketing research, companies will truly be guessing as to what guides the final purchase of products and services.
Market Research Methods
Your methods for market research will depend on the type of information desired (qualitative vs quantitative research) and whether you prefer primary or secondary research sources. There is no “perfect choice” — many successful companies use a combination of different market research methods.
- Field Research or Primary Research — This involves “going directly to the source” by using interviews, focus groups, direct observations and surveys.
- Desk Research or Secondary Research — This cost-effective research method gathers information from published sources such as the internet, market research studies, existing data from various private sources and customer databases.
A Practical Solution: Outsourcing Your Research Needs
Make no mistake — this is not an “Either/Or” choice! Successful marketing programs require both market research and marketing research. However, companies do often struggle when attempting to fulfill both of these critical needs. What is the best way to accomplish research cost-effectively and in a timely fashion? In many cases, the most practical solution is to outsource research needs to experts such as Research Optimus.
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– Research Optimus