The purpose of marketing research is to help you make better marketing decisions. (For an overview, see Malhotra and Birks.1) Marketing research can be focused on all the players and drivers that affect the marketing performance of the organization (see Exhibit 8.1.) These include end-users, resellers, competitors, suppliers, and trends.
Much of marketing research focuses on customers—their needs, their attitudes, and their behavior. End-user studies include:
• Segmentation: Characteristics that can be used to identify and distinguish segments
• Buying behavior: How they learn about products and services and make their choices
• Needs: Benefits sought by customers; priorities
• Perceived value: Maximum a customer is willing to pay, and why
• Product: Evaluations of all competing products or services
• Brand: Attributes associated with a brand
• Advertising copy: Comparison of ads
• Media habits: Where customers get information
• Sales calls: Content and effects of calls
• Pricing: Likely reactions to prices
• Buying behavior: How and where customers make purchases
Other studies may focus on:
• Resellers: For many organizations, resellers may represent the main group of customers, so many of the studies listed under end-users may also be conducted for them as well. In addition, there may be other necessary studies specific to resellers such as how they use sales promotion or what their stocking policies are.
• Suppliers: Research may focus on comparative costs of various suppliers and the performance of their products and services.
• Competitors: Research on competitors needs to determine who they are (often learned from end-users or resellers), their objectives, the strength of their capabilities, and what actions they are likely to take.
• Trends: Demographic, social, technological, political/regulatory, and economic trends can all affect the organization. Monitoring and forecasting such trends is also part of marketing research.
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