What is Consumer Research?
Consumer research has emerged as an extension and an integral part of marketing research. The purpose is to identify the needs and wants and then develop products and services to satisfy those needs and wants.
The focus of consumer research is exclusively on exploring consumer behavior. In the beginning, consumer research was used to help marketers predict the consumer reactions to marketers’ promotional messages and to understand why consumers made the purchase decisions that they did.
Marketers were reasonably convinced that if they could know everything about the consumer decision process, they would be in a position to design marketing strategies and promotional campaigns that would influence the consumers in such a manner that they would buy the company’s products or services.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Consumer Research?
- 2 Consumer Research Defined
- 3 Consumer Research Process
Consumer Research Defined
Consumers are the people and businesses that buy things from other people or businesses. Consumer research is how both the buyers and the sellers get information that will help them make decisions and plans for future purchases.
It involves collecting data, analyzing it, creating reports, and making predictions. The subject of consumer research encompasses brands, advertising, customer behavior, and product performance.
Consumer Research Process
Here we discuss some of the popular approaches used by consumer analysts to unearth answers they seek for a variety of reasons.
Specify Research Objectives
At the outset, it is important to clearly specify the purpose and objective of the research study on which the marketing manager and the researcher agree. This will ensure the development of an appropriate research design. For example, if the purpose of the research study is to come up with new ideas for advertising campaigns, then a qualitative study might be fruitful.
The sample size would be small due to the cost of each interview and a highly trained professional will spend more time face-to-face with respondents and subsequently would also analyze and interpret the data. The findings, however, may not be representative of the entire marketplace.
Collect and Evaluate Secondary Data
Secondary data is any information originally generated for some other purposes rather than the current problem under consideration and can be either internal or external to the organization. It includes findings based on data generated in-house for earlier studies, customer information collected by the company’s sales or credit departments, and research conducted by outside organizations.
The act of locating secondary data is called secondary research. Original research done by individuals or organizations to meet specific objectives is called primary research.
Design Primary Research
The selection of a research design depends on the purposes of the study. If a marketer needs descriptive information, then a quantitative research study is called for, but if the purpose is to generate new ideas, then a qualitative study is appropriate.
Qualitative or Motivational Research Design
The researcher first takes into consideration the purpose of the research study and the kind of data needed. Data collection techniques for qualitative studies include focus groups, depth interviews, and projective techniques.
All these techniques relate to psychoanalytic and clinical aspects of psychology. The emphasis is on open-ended and free-response types of questions so that the respondents reveal their unconscious thoughts and beliefs.
These techniques are frequently used in the early stages of attitude research to learn product-related beliefs or attributes and the resulting attitudes.
A sample design addresses three questions: who is to be surveyed (sampling unit), how many to the survey (sample size) and how should the respondents be chosen (the sampling procedure). Deciding whom to survey (sampling unit) requires that the researcher must define the target population (universe) that would be sampled.
For example, if Indian Airlines conducts a survey, should the sampling unit be business travelers, vacation travelers, or both? Should travelers under the age of 30 years be interviewed? Interviewing the correct target market or the potential target market is basic to the validity of the research.
Collecting Primary Data
The data collection phase of research is probably the most expensive and quite prone to error. The four major problems encountered are: some respondents will not be available at home and must be either contacted again or replaced, other respondents will refuse the interview, still others will give biased or dishonest answers and some interviewers themselves will be biased or dishonest.
The last-but-one step in the research process is to extract relevant findings from the collected data. In qualitative research, the moderator/analyst usually analyses the respondents’ responses. The researcher supervises the data analysis in quantitative research. The responses are converted into numerical scores and then tabulated and analyzed with the help of computers using sophisticated analytical techniques.
The researcher prepares a report of her/ his findings to be presented to the relevant parties. It may or may not include any recommendations for action depending on the requirements of the management.
The report includes a description of the methodology used, as well as tables and graphics to support the research findings. The researcher should present major findings that are relevant to decisions facing management and avoid detailing numbers and fancy jargon such as “multivariate analysis of variance.”