Developing the Research Plan

Once the research problems and objectives have been defined, researchers must determine the exact information needed, develop a plan for gathering it efficiently, and present the plan to management. The research plan outlines sources of existing data and spells out the specific research approaches, contact methods, sampling plans, and instruments that researchers will use to gather new data.

Research objectives must be translated into specific information needs. A For example, suppose Unilever decides to conduct research on how consumers would react to a proposed new premium cologne line sold under its Axe brand. The Axe line of body sprays, shower gels, and deodorants has grown rapidly in recent years to become the world's top male grooming brand. Axe targets 18- to 24-year-old males with a coolly seductive, adventurous, and unconventional positioning that promises to give them "an edge in the dating game." However, as younger consumers of Axe age, research suggests that many see themselves as outgrowing "inexpensive" body scents and switching to cologne.13 Creating a line of cologne fragrances for the Axe brand would be expensive but it might help to keep current customers as they mature. The proposed research might call for the following specific information:

• The demographic, economic, and lifestyle characteristics of current Axe users. (Maturing teen and young adult users might move readily to Axe cologne if it's priced right, carries a more mature scent, and is positioned to meet their changing lifestyles.)

• Characteristics and usage patterns of young male cologne users: What do they need and expect from their fragrances, where do they buy them, when and how do they use them, and what existing cologne brands and price points are

The decision by the Axe brand to offer a new cologne line that would give maturing customers a new "edge in the dating game" might call for marketing research that provides lots of specific information.

Secondary data

Information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose.

Primary data

Information collected for the specific purpose at hand.

Commercial online databases

Computerized collections of information available from online commercial sources or via the Internet.

most popular? (The new Axe cologne will need strong, relevant positioning in the crowed men's fragrance market.)

• Retailer reactions to the proposed new product line: Would they stock it? Where would they display it? (Failure to get retailer support would hurt sales of the premium cologne.)

• Forecasts of sales of both the new and current Axe products. (Will the new cologne line create new sales or simply take sales from the current Axe products? Will the cologne increase Unilever's overall profits?)

Axe brand managers will need these and many other types of information to decide whether and how to introduce the new cologne product.

The research plan should be presented in a written proposal. A written proposal is especially important when the research project is large and complex or when an outside firm carries it out. The proposal should cover the management problems addressed and the research objectives, the information to be obtained, and the way the results will help management decision making. The proposal also should include research costs.

To meet the manager's information needs, the research plan can call for gathering secondary data, primary data, or both. Secondary data consist of information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose. Primary data consist of information collected for the specific purpose at hand.


data variables collected from 30,000+

America! consumers annually on 8,000+

brands and 4SO+

product categories

S Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS)

♦ First syndicai&d national survey launched in the U.3,

Market Research Council accredited

» Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study (NHCS)

♦ Surveys over 8$9& Hispanic adoiis living in the U.S. anmsaiiy proving Hispanfc-oniy information on acculturation, language usage and preference, nativity, and country of origin

• Market Research Council accredited

9 Multi-Media Engagement Study (MME)

«FVovkias ratings on tte cognitive, behavioral and emotional Srnohttment consumers have with medte vehicles

* The only syndicated, cross-channel engagement rmammM tool available it Experian Local Market. Services (ELMS)

• Access to detailed Information on consumers in each 0? the 208 Media Markets, detailing their purchasing

Habits, lifestyles, and psyehographte

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♦ ©men segcnantatioss targeting system profiling American Co!!su?rwrs Wo feuf'consumw segments based en buy rng behavior, attMiidss, opinions. lifestyle and media usage

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