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Marketing Research Theory MRT201

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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Study Unit 1: The practice of market research
Chapter 1
Learning Outcomes
Upon completing this study unit, you should be able to:
Understand the nature of research;
Recognise the value and contribution of research;
Understand the limitations of research;
Understand the roles of the research supplier and the person who commissions the research; and
Understand the ethical and legal framework within which research operates, and the implications of that
framework for the practice of research.
What is research?
Researchconcernsenquiry,andsystematic observationorinvestigationto find
things out.
It is the process by which we produce evidence or knowledge about the world.
It is founded on scientific methods, which are in turn supported by philosophical
principles about the nature of knowledge and how we construct that knowledge
(McGivern, 2013).
What does market and social research examine?
Research sets out to find out about either behaviour or attitudes, or both.
Researchers are interested in behaviour – which may be relevant to understanding
how a product or service is actually used, for example, or how decisions are made
about what to buy – and to understand it in order to influence it via marketing
communications such as advertising.
‘Actual’purchase behaviouris observed by collecting data at the point-of-sale in
shops, or by the researcher in person on an accompanied shopping trip with a
consumer.
‘Reported’behaviour– what people say they do – is also collected in a whole range
of ways in qualitative and quantitative research projects by asking different types of
questions.
In market research we also collect data about all types of attitudes: for example,
peoples’ opinions about events and issues, about products and brands – attitudes
that might change as a result of experience, media coverage or advertising, and
issues that are connected to value systems and to personality, which are less likely
to change.
Attitudes and behaviour are also influenced by others within a social group, be it
prevailing social norms, circumstances, the local environment or the broader
environment. For instance, you might prefer to dress casually for work, but if
everyone else in the office adopts a more formal style, you might do so too.
It is important for researchers who work in market research to have an understanding
of theories and models that relate to behaviour, and factors, which influence
behaviour at a personal, social and broader environmental level. Using these
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
theories and models will help you to design and shape your research, and to interpret
data that is derived from it. Attitudes and behaviour are also influenced by others
within a social group, be it prevailing social norms, circumstances, the local
environment or the broader environment. For instance, you might prefer to dress
casually for work, but if everyone else in the office adopts a more formal style, you
might do so too.
It is important for researchers who work in market research to have an understanding
of theories and models that relate to behaviour, and factors, which influence
behaviour at a personal, social and broader environmental level. Using these
theories and models will help you to design and shape your research, and to interpret
data that is derived from it.
Research contexts
Research is conducted in many different contexts.
Consumerresearch
Consumer research is conducted among consumers – individuals and households. The
purpose of consumer research is usually to understand consumer behaviour, as well as
consumer attitudes and opinions in relation to products and services and the marketing
activity that surrounds them. For example, the South African Audience Research
Foundation (SAARF) does consumer research by measuring the audiences of all
traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cinema and out of
home media.
Business-to-business research
The purpose of business-to-business research is usually to understand the behaviour,
attitudes and opinions of those businesses that are involved in marketing and selling
products and/or services to other businesses.
Advertising research
Companies use research for a number of reasons: to determine what advertisements will
work and, which will work best, and in what medium; how effective the advertising is
among the target audience; what view it creates of the organisation or its products and
brands; and what effect the advertising has on the target market in terms of its buying
behaviour.
International research
International research is conducted in more than one country. It is organised typically in
one of two ways: the entire project is ‘centrally co-ordinated’ from one country and only
the data collection is carried out ‘locally’, or each country operates its own project based
on a research plan and a standardised data collection tool with results pooled upon
completion.
The use of market research
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Organisations in the private, public and non-profit sectors rely on research to inform and
improve their planning and decision making.
The marketing process:
Think of all the information needs – the research needs – which this marketing process
involves should it be done effectively, if the goal of marketing – to identify, anticipate and
satisfy customer requirements’ profitability –should be met. Market research can be used to
achieve the following:
Understand the wider environment and how it affects the organisation;
Identify opportunities and threats;
Identify markets, competitors and customers;
Help with priority setting and direct the use of resources;
Build knowledge for longer-term benefits;
Understand customers and market dynamics;
Monitor customer and stakeholder satisfaction;
Understand how to build and enhance customer relationships;
Monitor and evaluate competitors/competitive activity;
Identify or monitor market changes and trends;
Develop marketing strategies;
Test different marketing strategies;
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Monitor and control marketing programmes;
Understand how to influence customer attitudes and behaviour;
Understand how best to communicate with customers and stakeholders;
Develop advertising and communication strategies;
Develop and test advertising execution; and
Develop or select a product or service, brand name, pack design, price point, and
distribution channel.
The limitations of research
The value of research depends on it providing actionable, insightful, high-quality
information that can be used in the decision-making process. There are many factors
that limit the value of a piece of research, including the following (McGivern 2013):
Poor definition of the problem;
Lack of understanding of the problem (or the brief);
Poor or inappropriate research design;
The limitations of the methods used;
Poor execution of the research itself;
Interpretation of the results;
The status of knowledge;
The time that elapses between commissioning the research and delivering and
applying the findings; and
The limitations of research
The value of research depends on it providing actionable, insightful, high-quality information
that can be used in the decision-making process. There are many factors that limit the value
of a piece of research, including the following (McGivern 2013):
Poor definition of the problem;
Lack of understanding of the problem (or the brief);
Poor or inappropriate research design;
The limitations of the methods used;
Poor execution of the research itself;
Interpretation of the results;
The status of knowledge;
The time that elapses between commissioning the research and delivering and
applying the findings; and
The use, misuse or non-use of research evidence by the decision makers.
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
McGivern, 2013 pp 21 – 28 explains in detail:
The client side research role;
The day-to-day job of an in-house researcher;
Types of research suppliers;
Roles within a research agency;
The research executive role;
Roles within the data processing service; and
Roles within the fieldwork service.
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Ethics and the practice of research
Ethics are moral principles that guide behaviour. Ethical standards are important
in a research context in order that those who are involved in research know what
is and what is not acceptable behaviour in respect of conduct or research.
EthicsSA (the Ethics Institute of South Africa) defines ethics on their website as:
The discipline of critical reflection on the nature of morality; a systematic
endeavour to understand the values and principles informing right, good and fair
individual human actions (conduct) and collective human actions in institutions
(practices), as well as the good of society. Conduct and practices conforming to
these standards are judged to be ethical; conversely, those that do not are
judged to be unethical.
EthicsSA also defines ethical values as the:
Core aspirational notions embedded in the standards of right, good and fair
human conduct; for example, the value of honesty generates the principle (and
obligation) of honesty, which is a standard of good (ethical) conduct.
Key ethical principles in research include:
Voluntary participation;
No harm to participants;
Informed consent;
Anonymity, confidentiality (privacy);
Transparency; and
Not deceiving participants.
Professional codes of conduct have been developed to set out how to apply
ethical principles in research practice. They include:
ICC/ESOMAR Code of Practice www.esomar.org;
MRS Code of Conduct www.mrs.org;
Social Research Association Ethical Guidelines www.the-sra.org.uk;
Research Ethics Policy - Cape Peninsula University
https://www.cput.ac.za/images/research/documents/HWS-REC2.1.doc; and
University Of Pretoria Code Of Ethics For Research
http://www.library.up.ac.za/research/docs/code_ethics.pdf.
Research and data protection legislation
The aim of this legislation is to ensure confidentiality in the collection and use of personal
data in most countries. There are eight principles that govern the treatment of personal data,
and these are mentioned below.
Personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully.
Personal data must only be used for the specified, lawful purposes for which it was
collected.
Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive.
Personal data shall be accurate and kept up to date.
Personal data must not be kept beyond fulfilling the purpose for which it was
collected.
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of the data subjects.
Personal data must be kept secure.
Personal data shall not be transferred from the European Economic Area, unless
adequate protections are in place.
What does this mean in practice?
Think about the purpose of the research.
Get informed consent from the respondent.
Make clear how data will be used.
Give respondents an option to opt out of the research process at any point.
What about online data collection?
Answer the following questions in relation to the practice of this form of research and
ethical behaviour:
Do we respect or ignore expectations of privacy?
Do we engage online commentators?
Do we seek permission to share customers’ comments in our research?
Do we state the identities of respondents when we quote them?
Additional reading
Watch the following video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fluSAYgnLas on the Importance of
Market Research.
Revision Question 1
Your client has recently recruited a new internal research executive and a new
marketing executive. The client has asked you, an agency researcher, to prepare a
training session for them, which includes the following topics:
a. What research can and cannot offer; and
b. What an external supplier of research can offer a client organisation.
Revision Question 2
A retailer of mobile phones would like to conduct a series of group discussions with each
of the following groups of customers:
12 – 14-year-olds;
15 – 17-year-olds; and
18 – 21-year-olds.
In his brief, the marketing manager has stated that he would like the groups to be recorded
and, in addition, to use the findings to help him understand his customers better, hence he
plans to use the recordings in training sessions with sales staff. Imagine that you are writing
the proposal for this research. Identify the ethical, legal and code of conduct issues that the
client’s brief raises and describe how you would handle these.
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Marketing Research Theory MRT201
Study Unit 2: Types of research
Chapter 2.
Learning Outcomes
Upon completing this study unit, you should be able to:
Understand the terminology that is used to describe types of research;
Understand the basics of each type of research;
Be aware of the main uses of each type;
Understand what is meant by research design and what the process of research design involves; and
Understand key aspects of the main research designs.
Types of research
Research can be classified according to its context, consumer research (sometimes
called B2C or business-to-consumer research), or business-to-business research (B2B)
or social research. It can also be described in the following ways, as shown in the table
below.
The nature of the research enquiry
1.1Exploratory research
Research can be undertaken to explore an issue or a topic. It is particularly useful in
identifying a problem, clarifying the nature of a problem or defining the issues involved. It can
be used to develop propositions and hypotheses for further research, to consider new
insights, or to reach a greater understanding of an issue.
For example, what variables affect car sales?
1.2 Descriptive research
The purpose of descriptive research is to answer more clearly defined research questions.
Descriptive research aims to build a picture – of a market, a set of customers, a social
phenomenon, and/or a set of experiences, for example.
For example, who is buying my product?
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