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Marketing Research

Paper Outline

Purpose and importance of marketing research
The difference between primary and secondary data

Types of Marketing Research


Purpose and importance of marketing research

In order to define marketing research and its importance in an organization, it is important that one first understands what marketing is. Therefore marketing can be defined as the sum of all activities that are focused towards identifying customer needs and wants, coming up with products that profitably satisfy those needs and wants and maintain lasting relationships with customers and suppliers. Marketing approach or concept differs with other approaches in that it focuses on identifying customer needs and therefore through the information acquired concerning those needs products are developed that meet those needs. Product approach is however different in that its focus is on developing a quality product first therefore much emphasis is laid on the product which is then taken to the market. There is also the sales approach whereby the company makes any product and then comes out with sales strategies through which the finished products can be sold out, and therefore much emphasis is on sales.
To be able to identify the needs of customers as is a requirement of marketing it is important that one carries out a market research. The current business environment is so competitive and also customer needs and wants have become so complex and hard to decipher, particularly because the market keeps on changing. As a result, any business that is able to closely predict the future of the market trend will be in a better position to minimize risks in its operations. Therefore marketing research will help an organization (profit or non-profit) to identify potential markets and customer needs and wants and create the right marketing mix that will ensure that the customers are satisfied and the company objectives are met (McKean, p.72)
One way of creating the right marketing mix through research is by studying consumer behavior. For instance through research one can establish what types media are used by a given target group and when they mostly use them. This helps in knowing which advertising promotional tools to use in reaching them. By observing buying habits of customers, for example their frequency of buying and the quantities they purchase can help in determining places to sell a given product whether in supermarkets for those who do one stop-shopping and nearby canteens for those who frequently purchase small quantities. The economic levels of the group can be established through research to be able to determine prices that the group will afford. Through research Virgin was establish that most of the airline companies charged high prices and yet customers preferred low prices. Hence they were able to charge relatively low prices for their products which enabled them to penetrate the market and establish themselves. At the same time they established a liking towards their virgin brand hence they developed other product line from the brand name (Scribd, para3).

The difference between primary and secondary data

Primary data refers to unprocessed information that a researcher himself collects from the field or market for a specific purpose. In this instance a representative sample of the population is determined and information is collected from through, interviews, questionnaires, observation, group discussion or a focused group. Such data is analyzed systematically and conclusions are drawn based on the results. Primary data can at times be subjective because the researcher may want to reach a conclusion hence might focus on sample that achieve that. Secondary data refers to unprocessed information that is obtained from published sources which had been collected by someone else and made available either free or for commercial purposes. Although secondary data unlike primary data is less costly and easy to obtain it has other limitations, for instance what is available may be out of date or may not provide the specific information required for the research (McKean, p.73)          There are situations in which Virgin might use either secondary or primary data. First to determine the strength of their brand they need primary data like when they established that 96% of consumers recognized their brand. He also obtained data from inside the organization which were applied on both sides. For instance the meeting in Mallorca where Branson met with his 30 managing directors which acted like a focus group. From that meeting primary data was obtained which helped virgin to adopt e-commerce and a unifying document of Virgin Charter. On other hand secondary data was obtained from inside the company, which is its financial records which helped Virgin to decide launch highfrills airline in 2005 in the US. In order for the company to introduce products for the youth like mobile phones and clothes they used primary data to identify the need and the association which the youth had with the Virgin brand (McKean, p.98).
Virgin Atlantic was relatively a small player in the industry though it was able to win 51 awards for innovation and service. This might have been possible by getting customer’s feedback through questionnaires filled clients who boarded their planes. This enable the company to get primary data on customer’s satisfaction hence finding ways to make improvement. For Virgin Atlantic to offer relatively lower prices as compared to other operators especially the flag carriers, Virgin must have researched on the inefficiencies of its competitors hence found ways of improving on their cost management. They might have found secondary data from the operation procedures of its competitors (Dean, p. 33).

Types of Marketing Research

Research types are basically divided in to two depending on the information needed and these include: exploratory research, descriptive research and casual/predictive research.
Exploratory research; which is done to search for preliminary information on what happened or is currently happening. There is generally no clear objective however the researcher is led by curiosity of he is learning to seek to know more. It is characterized by some level of flexibility in method hence the researcher can easily deviate from the guide when something new comes. One effective technique gathering information in this research type is using in-depth interviewing, whereby the respondent is not restricted on how to present his answers and his responses gives insights and ideas that help in deriving more questions. (Wren, Stevens and Loudon, p.34-36). For example when in an interview the respondent says something that give a clue of what was not covered in the guide yet is relevant, the interviewer will ask more questions to find out more. This type of marketing research can be used by virgin to monitor purchasing trends of their customers hence they can use data from this research to determine consumer tastes and preferences. A case in point is where Procter and Gamble carries out continuous research on it products which helped the company in coming up with new products that were liked their consumers (ICMR, p.3).
Another type of marketing research is descriptive research whereby hypotheses developed from exploratory research are used to gain detailed information on a given topic. This research type provides an opportunity to test the ideas or hypotheses generated from exploratory research and hence information acquired can be used to make decisions. A survey is an effective technique in collecting data in this research type, whereby a representative sample of a relevant population is obtained and series of questions are asked to each participant. In-depth interviewing can also be applied in this case however, as opposed to exploratory research where there is flexibility in questioning; here questions are structured and pre-determined. An example in application for Virgin is when they want to establish how their customers in a given region view their brand. For instance, do you see Virgin as fun innovative and daring as a hypothetical question (Wren, Stevens and Loudon, p.45-48).
Lastly we have casual/predictive research which is carried out to establish the relationship between variables. For instance Virgin which positions itself as low pricing company can test if demand for its youth will increase to a given level if they decrease their prices by a particular margin (McKean, p.100).

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