Managers cannot always wait for information to arrive in bits and pieces from the marketing intelligence system. They often require formal studies of specific situations. For example, Apple Computer wants to know how many and what kinds of people or companies will buy its new ultralight personal computer. Or a Dutch pet product firm needs to know the potential market for slimming tablets for dogs. What percentage of dogs are overweight, do their owners worry about it, and will they give the pill Co their podgy pooches?1^ In these situations, the marketing intelligence system will not provide the detailed information needed. Because managers normally do not have the skills or time to obtain the information on their own. they need formal marketing research.
Marketing research is the function linking the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information - information used: to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; to generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; to monitor marketing performance; and to improve understanding of the marketing process.13 Marketing researchers specify the information needed to address marketing issues, design the method for collecting information, manage and implement the data collection process, analyze the results and communicate the findings and their implications.
Marketing researchers engage in a wide variety of activities, ranging from analyses of market potential and market shares to studies of customer satisfaction and purchase intentions. Every marketer needs research. A company can conduct marketing research in its research department or have some or all of it done outside. Although most large companies have their own marketing research departments, they often use outside firms to do special research tasks or special studies. A company with no research department will have to buy the services of research firms.
Many people think of marketing research as a lengthy, formal process carried out by large marketing companies. But many small businesses and non-profit organizations also use marketing research. Almost any organization can find informal, low-cost alternatives to the formal and complex marketing research techniques used by research experts in large firms.
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