Sales and Marketing

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It is important for organisations to find out the needs and wants of its customers. Select two different research methods of which 1 must be quantitative and 1 qualitative and compare and contrast them. In addition, critically appraise their strengths and their weaknesses and their application within your industry.

In order to promote and sell ideas, products or services every organisation must investigate the market place of their own industry. As Holloway (2004, p.59) defines, marketing research is “the planned, systematic collection and an analysis of data designed to help the management of an organisation to reach decisions, and to monitor the results of those decisions once taken”. There are two main approaches of research that calculate and understand customers’ needs and desires. One is the qualitative method, which studies motivation, attitudes and behaviour of consumers. The other analyses the quantitative aspect of consumer’s behaviour and opinions in form of numerical data and statistics. Within qualitative and quantitative methods used in the tourism industry, in this essay I will describe, evaluate and contrast one of each type in order to understand the differences and similarities in their objectives and how their may complement each other. Out of the qualitative approaches, attention will be devoted to the focus group, which explores consumers’ feelings and attitudes through interviewing small groups of people of the same or different culture, gender, class, age (etc.) to draw conclusions about a whole segment of population’s behaviour. The larger picture is then supported by the data collected and analysed through quantitative methods like the survey, which measures consumers’ behaviour in numbers obtained through questionnaires made for larger groups.
The focus group is a discussion guided by a moderator whose aim is to expose individual feelings on a selected issue or product that needs to be inserted or enhanced in the market place. Discussions usually involve a selection of individuals (from 6 to 10 people maximum) who can be representative of larger groups. Data is usually collected through discussions that the moderator must carefully guide in order to expose the participants’ real feelings without manipulate them with his/her objectives (Palmer 2004, p. 149). The range of topics that organizations in the tourist sectors may investigate is extremely wide and, like for all other industries, it touches topics from personal attitudes toward an existing product or its customer satisfaction, to the investigation of a market place for a potential new product. Individuals are usually selected according to the features that are most representative of a specific segment of society, from their age, gender, cultural background, class, to the place or community where they live. According to the organization purpose, the group may be formed of individuals of a specific segment if the objective is to target the larger group as a whole. In other cases researchers may observe the consequences of an interaction between individuals from different groups in order to understand broader social dynamics (Egan 2007, pp. 135-141). When properly monitored, this type of research is well effective to highlight features of groups that are targeted by the organization. For example First Choice Holidays studied the market competition by researching on the emotional values attached to other tour operators through group discussions. The study revealed interesting information about people’s feeling toward each tour operator and offered the company insights for improving their image (Holloway 2004, p.85). However the strategy presents a series of downsides, which mainly regard the difficulties related in identifying individuals as representative of a certain group along with logistic and cost-related problems that may appear when setting the discussion in a specific place. For example if a Tour Operator’s objective is to...
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