Defining the Problem and Research Objectives

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The marketing manager and the researcher must work closely together to define the problem carefully and must agree on the research objectives. The manager ob/Gctiyös

Developing the research pían far collecting information

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The marketing research process understands the decision for which information is needed; the researcher understands marketing research and how to obtain the information.

Managers must know enough about marketing research to help in the planning and in the interpretation of research results, if they know little about marketing research, they may obtain the wrong information, aecept wrong conclusions, or ask for information that costs too much. Experienced marketing researchers who understand the manager's problem also need involvement at this stage. The researcher must be able to help the manager define the problem and to suggest ways that research can help the manager make better decisions.

Defining the problem and research objectives is often the hardest step in the research process. The manager may know that something is wrong, without knowing the specific causes. For example, managers of a discount retail store chain hastily decided that poor advertising caused falling sales, so they ordered research to test the company's advertising. It puzzled the managers when the research showed that current advertising was reaching the right people with the right message. It turned out that the chain stores were not delivering what the advertising promised. Careful problem definition would have avoided the cost and delay of doing advertising research. It would have suggested research on the real problem of consumer reactions to the products, service and prices offered in the chains stores.

After the problem has been defined carefully, the manager and researcher must set the research objectives. A marketing research project might have one of three types of objective. The objective of exploratory research is to gather preliminary information that will help define the problem and suggest hypotheses. The objective of descriptive research is to describe things such as the market potential for a product or the demographics and attitvides of consumers who buy the product. The objective of causal research is to test hypotheses about cause-and-cff'ect relationships. For example, would a 10 per cent cut in CD prices increase sales sufficiently to offset the lost margin? Managers often start with exploratory research and later follow with descriptive or causal research.

The statement of the problem and research objectives guides the entire research process. The manager and researcher should put the statement in writing to be certain that they agree on the purpose and expected results of the research.

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