Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information - information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues; designs the method for collecting information; manages and implements the data-collection process; analyses the results; and communicates the findings and their implications.
Any definition of marketing research has to take account of the changing role of research in modern marketing. Marketing research connects the consumer, the customer and the public to the marketer through the medium of information. This information is used to distinguish and define marketing opportunities and threats or problems. It is also used to create, improve and assess marketing actions and to monitor marketing performance. It also helps to improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research identifies the information required to address these issues. It comprises methods for collecting data, analysis of data collected and their interpretation and communication of the findings and their implications. It takes account of experience, the present situation and the likely future so that marketing executives can make sound decisions.
This definition of marketing research underlines the role of research in all phases of marketing, assisting and guiding the marketing efforts of the organisation (see Figure 1.1). Marketing research involves more than studies of specific problems or specific situations, for it prevents problems arising in the first place. There is a need for marketing research to be at the centre of decision making.3, 4 It is a fact-finding and forecasting function that is used by all phases of marketing and even by other functional aspects of an organisation.
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