Who needs marketing research

What these stories have in common is that they illustrate the value of good, up-to-date and detailed market information in making marketing decisions vital to the success of an organization. This holds equally true whether the 'marketing' is concerned with national or local government, fast-moving or durable consumer goods, retail outlets, industrial organizations, dot-com businesses, services or charities and other non-profit-making bodies.

'Marketing' is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as, 'the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably'. This definition identifies the crucial part marketing research has to play in designing and implementing an effective marketing strategy. Marketing research provides the mechanism for identifying and anticipating customer requirements and for measuring whether customers are satisfied by these product offerings. For non-profit-making organizations the concept of 'profitability', used in the definition, may be translated to 'using resources optimally, i.e. gaining maximum customer satisfaction through the most effective deployment of resources'. The American Marketing Association replaces 'profitably' with the phrase 'to create mutually satisfactory exchanges'. It is in this sense that marketing and marketing research have just as important a contribution to make in the public sector and in non-profit-making organizations as in the private sector.

That customer requirements must be paramount in the thinking of any organization providing goods or services is illustrated by the anecdotes with which this chapter begins and by the demise or declining profitability of companies whose goods do not meet current market requirements. There was no better illustration of this than the failure of dot-com businesses, which failed to ask the simplest question required for success in business: 'where is the customer in all this?'

The problem for many organizations has been their lack of a mechanism for detecting change in the marketplace. Markets have become more competitive and the pace of technology has accelerated change. Gordon Moore at Intel Corporation has speculated that the processing power of computers doubles every 18 months. Organizations can no longer afford to rely simply on making a good product for it to be successful in the long term. It now has to meet a real market need in a very precise way and perhaps for a shorter period than in the past. This book is about the mechanisms available to managers to make organizations more responsive to their markets. This is the province of marketing research and hence the title of this book. It is properly termed 'marketing research' rather than the more colloquial 'market research' because it is research applied not only to measuring and identifying markets and market characteristics, but also to measuring the effectiveness of marketing decision making. Research can be applied in deciding which products or services to offer, what their characteristics should be, the price at which they should be sold, the distribution channels through which the product should be sold, and the selling and advertising messages that are likely to have greatest appeal. Others would argue that there is a separate type of research called 'social research' which is used by those in local and national government in making decisions about the provision of social services. A further debate is concerned with whether research in industrial and service markets differs from research in consumer markets.

This book takes the view that the techniques developed for marketing research in the cause of more effective marketing of fast-moving consumer goods have proved themselves equally effective in contributing to decision making about resource allocation and market response in all consumer markets, in political and social policy decision making, in industrially based markets and in service-based markets. The techniques introduced here are generally applicable in all of those areas, although there may be differences of detail and emphasis in their application.

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