What Is Marketing Research? Why Is It Needed by Companies?

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Marketing research is a systematic process of obtaining information to aid in making decisions about the marketing of products and services. It involves the “design, collection, analysis and reporting of data relevant to a specific marketing situation.” (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006)

According to Drucker (1974), the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself." To this end, the function of marketing research is to supply management with accurate, timely and relevant information (on consumer behaviour, markets, competitors) to reduce the uncertainty of decision making (regarding pricing, promotion, product & package design and distribution). Management makes numerous decisions on a daily basis, and these decisions are impacted by variables such as economic conditions, competition and of course consumer behaviour. Marketing Research assists in removing the ambiguity that exists when making decisions, enhancing the results.

To be considered credible, marketing research should be free from biases. ‘Find it and tell it like it is’ should be the goal, and as such, management interference, the researcher’s philosophical beliefs and political persuasions should be removed. Ethical considerations are also of note. Given the advances in technology and continual need for customer information, privacy has become a concern, resulting in numerous customers refusing to participate in research activities.

There are three types of marketing research, viz: exploratory, descriptive and experimental/casual research. Exploratory research is conducted when a problem is not fully defined, and the company is seeking to determine the best course of action. Qualitative data is used, gathered through interviews, case studies and observations.

Descriptive research operates on the basis of a hypothesis and often focuses on a particular variable. It attempts to make predictions about customer...
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