Market Research Essay

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Market  research  examines  the  operating  environment  of a corporation. It  includes  all of the  processes and operations  that deal with the systematic acquisition  of knowledge,  including  searching  for, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information. This knowledge supports  the marketing activities of corporations.

Market research is generally divided into four categories: market research, consumer  research, product research, and media research. It can be performed either by using secondary sources such as data and information  that  has been collected beforehand  or through  primary  research  that  refers  to  collecting data on a specific topic directly in the market. When conducting market research, researchers apply qualitative and quantitative  research methods.

Market research aims at investigating the conditions in which  a corporation operates.  The acquisition  of market information  has two main goals. First, market information  can help to solve problems that the company is facing and allows managers within the corporations to make better decisions. If sales of a certain product decrease, market research can present answers as to why consumers do not buy the product anymore or why they prefer the product of a rival. Market research can help to locate and identify corporate problems and to develop solutions for them.

Second, market  research  helps to identify future trends  and  challenges  for  corporations.   Firms  are facing increasing competition  from an ever-growing number  of competitors.  In order to bring successful and profitable product ideas to market as fast as possible, the corporation needs to identify any changes or trends in customer  needs so that they can be integrated  into  marketing  planning.  Thus the  company needs information about market potential, market share, and trends in consumer behavior.

Stages Of Market Research

Market  research  is performed  in several stages. At the  beginning  of the  market  research  process,  the problem or challenge the corporation faces has to be defined in order to be solved. Information  to accomplish this can be found in the market. The company can either  carry out the research  activities itself or hire  a market  research  agency to  do  so. In  some cases, information  on the  topic  of interest  already exists within  the  company  or  in official organizations,  such  as ministries,  research  institutions,  or market research agencies. The next step, namely the analysis and interpretation of the data and information acquired, is the most important one. Finally, the acquired data is integrated into the marketing activities of the corporation.

The acquired information  is communicated via marketing-information systems within the company. A marketing-information system facilitates the organized  and  regular  dissemination  of information  to all managers within an organization  to support  their decision-making processes. At the end of the market research process, collected information  will influence the marketing activities of corporations.

Areas Of Market Research

Market information  has various forms. They include information   about  the  researcher’s  own  company, its market  position, its development,  and its growth prognosis as well as competitive strategies and information  on rival corporations.  As its name suggests, market research investigates the operating market of a corporation and the changes that can be observed in these markets. Another  relevant area is the research of consumers,  their  attitudes,  needs,  and  behavior. Market research can further investigate products and their acceptance and usability. Product research aims at avoiding problems in product usage and acceptance by applying  product,  color,  or  flavor tests.  Market research is also conducted to investigate the effectiveness of media used in marketing activities. Questions investigated in this field concern  the image of communication  channels, how many and which consumers they reach, and the efficiency in communicating the corporation’s advertising messages.

Market research is divided into secondary and primary market  research.  Secondary research  is based on data, which has been investigated beforehand. Secondary data is often found in governmental  organizations, such as chambers,  ministries,  or research institutes.   Primary  market  research,  on  the  other hand, is data that is only collected to answer particular questions that a company may have.

If a company is interested in offering a new product (e.g., yogurt) in a new market, it can support its market entry decision with secondary data on the market conditions.   Secondary  data  may  include  information about market conditions, market volume, country sales numbers,  or general market  trends  such as changes in consumption styles. The question of which yogurt flavor customers  in a market prefer cannot be solved with secondary data. It must be investigated via primary research within the target consumer  group. Primary market  research  involves product  tests and integrating the results into new product development processes. This is to decrease the risk that the product will not be accepted by consumers.

Market information can be collected via internal and external  resources  of the  company.  Internal  sources are company statistics, consumer  data, and sales data as well as data on cost accounting.  External sources refer to information that derives from market research institutes,  consultancies,  experts, journals and industry indexes, governmental  organizations,  commercial chambers, universities, or other research institutes.

Qualitative And Quantitative Research

Market research methods are further divided into qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative market  research  attempts  to provide in-depth  information  on certain  topics and can therefore  find out consumers’ attitudes  or their changes in them, their values, and their reasons for making purchase  decisions. Qualitative  market  research  methods  include qualitative  interviews,  focus  groups,  observations, and  experiments.  Qualitative  interviews  consist  of open  questions  that  allow identifying psychological and sociological backgrounds and the relationships of a certain  topic. Focus groups are group  discussions in which a group of consumers  discuss their use and impressions  of a certain  product.  This discussion is moderated  and guided by a market researcher and in most  cases also videotaped.  During  the  discussion, different and often new aspects concerning the product are presented that enable the company to find out about consumer attitudes.

Observations investigate consumer behavior in greater  depth.  In  consumer  research,  observations take place in the form of test purchases (mystery shopping), customer  frequency surveys, or direct  observations of consumers’ purchasing  processes. Observations  permit  investigation  of consumer  behavior without  interference  by interviewees. Despite these benefits, observations are only partly usable because market researchers are only observing consumer behavior without investigating the background and reasons  for it. Observations  are often  considered  a subjective research method.

Experiments simulate real situations and observe and analyze the behavior of consumers  in them. Experiments  are used to perform  product  tests on acceptance,  usability, flavor, and store tests. Causal relationships   can  be  discovered  in  this  way. The company  can  find  out  the  conditions,   the  store design, and the packaging that  positively influence consumer  behavior.

Quantitative  research  methods  refer  to  methods that generalize consumer  behavior. Whereas qualitative research  methods  investigate in depth  the consumers’ reasons and attitudes,  quantitative  research methods find out if these attitudes and reasons are representative for a majority of consumers. Quantitative research  methods  include surveys conducted  in the form of standardized  questionnaires.  Another  quantitative method is a panel, a regularly performed survey on media and purchase behavior of consumers.


  1. Gilbert Churchill  and  Tom  J. Brown, Basic Marketing Research (South-Western, 2009);
  2. Bonita M. Kolb,  Marketing  Research:  A  Practical  Los Angeles (Sage, 2008);
  3. Carl McDaniel,  ,  Marketing Research (Wiley, 2009);
  4. William G. Zikmund  and Barry J. Babin, Essentials of Marketing  Research (South-Western, 2009).

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