Marketing research needs to be evaluated post-facto in order to ascertain its usefulness/cost-effectiveness and draw lessons from the experience that may prove useful when considering further research. In order to do this, the research objectives must be clearly specified in measurable or ascertainable terms so that the degree to which they have been achieved, exceeded or underachieved can be identified. It may not always be possible to link financial expectations in terms of expected savings or increased profits to the financial cost of carrying out research. In measuring advertising effectiveness, for example, the objective may be to measure increase in product awareness.
There are several ways of evaluating research in non-financial terms. Lincoln and Guba1 suggest four criteria for evaluating qualitative research - credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability. Credibility demonstrates that the research was carried out in a manner such that the subject of the research was correctly identified and described. It can be improved by persistent observation to obtain a greater depth of understanding, by triangulation, by using different sources and collection methods of data and by peer debriefing of colleagues on a continuous basis. This is clearly pertinent to all marketing research studies. Transferability is concerned about whether the findings can be applied to another situation that is sufficiently similar to permit generalisation - useful when generating research that may form part of omnibus studies or provide secondary data for other studies. Dependability should show that the research processes are systematic, rigorous and well documented. This is an essential foundation on which all marketing research should be based. It permits subsequent users of the research to ascertain how well the research was conducted. Confirmability should be used as a criterion where the study has described the research process fully and it is possible to assess whether the findings flow from the data. Again this should be a requirement of a marketing research study. Yet another approach to evaluation involves obtaining respondent validity for the analysis. This involves discussing findings from the analysis with those who have participated in the study to obtain their reactions and opinions.
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