- Imagine you aren't feeling well and you visit your doctor. You've a good doctor who keeps up with all the most recent studies on various illnesses and potential treatments. One of the first things he does is review your chart, checking for any underlying medical conditions. Then he's likely to ask you questions about your symptoms such as when they started and how severe they are. He may take your vitals, perhaps do some blood work and run some tests. And finally he may give you a prescription or suggest that you do something differently to see if that helps.
Your doctor has multiple methods of obtaining data that may lead to a correct diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, you have multiple data collection methods at your disposal. Once you've formulated the problem and categorized the research approach it's time to consider how you are going to get the data you need. You may select one or multiple methods, as our doctor did. So let's consider at a high level what options you might choose from. Secondary research, contrary to its name, is the first thing you should consider.
It uses data that is already available, information that someone else collected for some purpose other than solving your present problem. There are two types of secondary research, using internal data and external data. In our doctor example the current studies that he reads on treatments and conditions could be considered a type of external secondary data, while reviewing your charts would be more like internal secondary data. Primary research is research that is specifically commissioned for the problem at hand and there are three types of primary research, qualitative, quantitative and experimental.
Qualitative research is about uncovering feelings or understanding decision-making. Quantitative is generally more about numbers and objective data. In our doctor example, asking you about your symptoms could be considered qualitative research, while getting tests could be considered quantitative. Sending you home with a few things to try to see if they work would fall under the experimental category. Let's consider an example that's in the business realm. You work for GE and you're interested in understanding the difference in the demographics of customers who are buying your refrigerators versus your competitors.
You might first turn to industry data that's been collected on refrigerator purchases. This is available to anyone, it's not specifically about your project but could provide some valuable information. This would be considered external secondary data. You might also analyze the warranty card information that is turned in by your own customers, which would be considered internal secondary data since it already exists in-house. You could alternatively interview buyers and potential buyers to understand their attitudes and preferences.
You could use this to profile the segments that purchase your refrigerators versus the competitors, and this could be done using qualitative research. You could then do a quantitative study to determine what portion of your buyers fall into specific demographic or attitudinal segments. Experimental might not be appropriate in this instance but for illustration purposes you could set up observation in Home Depot and watch who buys which refrigerators. Going back to our doctor example, as a patient, do you want your doctor to rely on just one method of gathering data? No, you want him to be selective but willing to use whatever combination of methods are appropriate to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
As you consider your market research problem, you have a whole toolbox at your disposal. You may not need all the tools, but you should pick and choose the ones that will work for you. You need to determine the best way to get information that can shed light on the problem and data that will point to potential solutions.
The course also explores how marketing research evolves throughout a product lifecycle and identifies possible stumbling blocks and ethical considerations when performing market research.
- Understanding market search
- Determining the research approach
- Understanding the types of research: qualitative to quantitative
- Developing questions
- Collecting data
- Analyzing data
- Preparing reports
- Identifying potential issues in marketing research