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Market Research as defined by the MRS is the collection and analysis of data from a sample or census of individuals or organisations relating to their characteristics, behaviour, attitudes, opinions and possessions. Market research includes all forms of market, opinion and social research such as consumer and industrial surveys, psychological investigations, qualitative interviews and group discussions, observational, ethnographic and panel studies.
There are a number of different market research definitions which are weighted to either address the process of conducting the actual research, which can either by sourced from primary or secondary sources, or to address the analysis and manipulation of the data or information gathered. There are two major schools of market research analysis techniques once the information is sourced and gathered; quantitative or qualitative analysis. In fact, a well-designed and planned market research programme will have to ensure that the research design and approach of collating the information is tailored specifically towards the aims of the project and the overall research analysis techniques to be adopted as part of the project. It is advisable that a full market research project is planned and scoped individually to meet the requirements of the outcome and this is also reflected in the way market research companies should cost these projects.
A fundamental misunderstanding about market research is that because there are specific methodologies eg focus groups, interviews etc, research can be purchased on some kind of "methodology menu" with unit costs decreasing due to increased volume. This is profoundly the wrong approach to research procurement or design. This only applies to very limited and generally lower level research approaches such as buying questions on an omnibus. A better approach to cost and design market research programmes is to break out the key parts of the research process eg. Project management, data capture, analysis and reporting plus direct out of pockets expenses. For example the direct costs of qualitative methodologies are:
|For Qualitative Groups||For Depth Interviews||For Online Qualitative|
|Recruitment||Recruitment||Set up costs|
|Viewing costs / hosting||Viewing costs / hosting||Incentives|
|Face to face meetings||Face to face meetings||Face to face meetings|
|Other costs||Other costs||Other costs|
There are a wide variety of reasons why companies invest in market research, not only to quantify the total market, but also to define customer attitudes and also help you define market segments. Market research information can collate the present the following information including:
Market research information and analysis is used by companies across a wide range of different functions and some of the same information reported upon can also be used in different ways by different departments. There is a large cross-over within companies for the same market research information which is often overlooked by companies. Market research data and analysis feeds into the following types of corporate functions:
Companies conducting research are most often investing in these programmes to help identify problems that often not clearly apparent on the surface yet exist or are likely to arise in the future. Examples of problem identification research include market potential, market share, brand or company image, market characteristics, sales analysis, short-range forecasting, long-range forecasting and business trends research. Once a problem or opportunity has been identified, problem solving research is undertaken to arrive at a solution. The following table shows the different types of issues that can be addressed by problem-solving research.
Figure 1: Market Research Classification
|Segmentation Research||Product Research||Pricing Research||Promotional Research||Distribution Research|
|Determine basis of segmentation||Test concept||Importance of price in brand selection||Optimal promotional budget||Determine type of distribution|
|Establish market potential and reponsiveness for various segments||Determine optimal product design||Pricing policies||Sales promotion relationship||Attitudes of channel members|
|Select target markets and ceate lifestyle profiles demography, media, and product image characteristics||Package tests||Product line pricing||Optimal promotional mix||Intensity of wholesale and retail coverage|
|Product Modification||Price elasticity of demand||Copy decisions||Channel margins|
|Brand positioning and repositioning||Initiating and responding to price changes||Media decisions||Location of retail and wholesale outlets|
|Test marketing||Creative advertising testing|
|Control store tests||Claim substantiation|
|Evaluation of advertising effectiveness|
The United Kingdom market research industry is the second largest research market in the world with the United States representing the largest. Despite being the second largest in terms of revenues generated, the United Kingdom is regarded as leading the way in the development of creative and innovative research approaches. The Office of National Statistics estimates that the UK turnover of the 3,143 companies involved in market research and opinion polling totalled £3.4 billion in 2010. The market research sector in the United Kingdom is large although compared to other marketing communications sectors the revenues generated are relatively small. For instance, the advertising market in the United Kingdom is approximately five times larger than the UK market research industry.
As a result of the relatively small revenues generated by market research services in the United Kingdom, the industry is dominated by SMEs. Based on the MRS 2010 league tables, which details the largest suppliers of market research, analysis, intelligence ranked by individual company, once outside the top fifteen companies, all other suppliers are SMEs and there is a considerable number of small and micro business suppliers.
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