Marketing research is the eyes and ears of marketing. Many marketing failures can be traced to not understanding customers, not understanding competitors, or not understanding trends in the competitive environment. Marketing research can be highly sophisticated and expensive. However, you can also learn a lot from much more modest techniques. Simply talking to your customers can provide a very high payoff in terms of knowledge about their needs, about what competitors might be doing, and about what trends in the environment might cause the customers to change their behavior.
When you are conducting marketing research or even just looking at the results of a study, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of how the information is collected and how it is analyzed and presented. Those strengths and weaknesses may affect your interpretation of the results and how useful they may be to you. This chapter is a short course in understanding different kinds of marketing research and the possible reservations to any study.
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