Bulk of research is done to measure consumer wants and needs. Also, marketing research is carried out to assess the impact of past marketing actions. Some research is done to understand the competitive, technological, social, economic cultural, political or legal environments of the market.
Another way of looking at the function of marketing research is to look at the particular decision area where research results are used
Much research is done in the following areas which are broadly referred as sales analysis,
- Measurement of market potential/demand projection,
- Determination of market characteristics;
- Market share estimation;
- Studies of business trends.
In fact, some of the more detailed studies to be carried out under the broad ambit of sales analysis could be as follows,
- The types of consumers that constitute the potential market
- The size and location of the market;
- The growth and. concentration of the market over certain period of time,
- The competitive picture for the product;
- The major strategies of leading competitors with respect to price, offerings distribution etc.
- The purchase habits of key market segments;
- What is the pattern of pre-purchase deliberations made by the consumers’?
- Who are involved in the decision making?
- What are the roles of different members in the decision making?
- How does the product fit into the consumer’s life styles? (Operation if it is an industrial product);
- Do consumers prefer to buy some particular brands’? (i.e. Assess the degree of brand loyalty).
The above list is not exhaustive. Here research is basically done with a view to know consumers’ motivation, attitude, cognition and perceptions etc. Thus information wilI be collected in a manner so that they have some implications for various marketing decisions.
Sales Methods and Policies
Marketing research studies are also conducted with a view to evaluate the effectiveness of present distribution system. Such studies are used in establishing or revising sales territories.. They are also helpful in establishment of sales quotas, design of territory boundary, compensation to sales force, physical distribution and distribution cost analysis etc. Marketing research is also done to assess the effectiveness of different promotional activities such as premiums, deals, coupons, sampling etc.
Every marketer tries to formally or informally utilize information to manage the existing and new products. It examines market feedback about competitive product offerings. Also, some companies make use of marketing research to form market segments through choice of alternative bases. Companies also carry out different research studies to assess consumer feedback to new products and their likely potential. Of late, in India many consumer products have been launched after making rigorous amount of research. Moreover, researches have enabled to diagnose how consumers perceive various brands of a product. Such studies have enabled the companies to position their brands.
Marketing research studies have been conducted to monitor the performance of the test brand (in terms of trial and repeat purchase) launched in select shops in the market. Studies are popularly known as simulated test marketing (STM) models.
Pricing studies, packaging research, design or physical characteristics, have also been sometimes conducted.
Media research: Three National Readership Surveys (NRS) have so far been conducted in India. These studies have basically estimated the readership of leading newspapers. The last NRS has also assessed qualitatively, readers’ feedback on the editorial content.
Moreover, some marketing research have evaluated the relative effectiveness of different media in specific product fields, and in context of achieving specific tasks such as creating brand awareness or a particular product benefit.
Copy research: Advertising agencies have been regularly engaged in this activity where they test out alternative copy designs by obtaining the feedback from to consumers.
Studies of advertisement effectiveness – Advertising agencies regularly make use of marketing research studies to assess and monitor effectiveness of different advertising campaigns.
Large scale corporate image studies among different target publics – They involve an assessment of knowledge about company activities, association of company with sponsored activities and company perceptions on specific dimensions. These types of corporate image studies are done periodically to monitor any change in image over time among different publics.
Social values research: Knowledge, attitude and practices on family planning, anti-dowry, smoking, drinking etc.
Political studies: In recent times marketing studies have been conducted to ascertain the public opinion about the election results.
Customer service studies: Many banks and large industrial houses have resorted to marketing research to know the consumers’ changing need for service and possible grievances about existing operations.
Several research agencies collect and tabulate marketing information on a continuing ‘basis. Reports are sent periodically (Weekly, monthly or quarterly) to clients who are paid subscribers. Such services are found especially useful in the spheres of movement of consumer goods through retail outlets (ORG Retail Audit), incidence of disease and use of branded drugs (MARL- prescription audit), Television Program viewing (the Television Rating Points), Newspaper & Magazine readership (NRS – discussed earlier under media research), assessment of market potential of a city with population one lakh and above (Thompson Indices), study of nation’s attitudes and psychographics (PSNAP and IMRB’s life style research on the cigarette market).