Main divisions of Marketing Research
1. Product Research- This is concerned with the design, development, and testing of new products, the improvement of existing products, and the forecasting of likely
trends in customer’s preferences in such areas as styling.functional qualities, etc. Comparative testing with competi-
tive products should be undertaken to assess realistically the values of marketed products from the customer’s point
of view. Pricing studies should also be carried out on a comparative basis. The growing importance of packaging as a
buying influence necessitates research; alternative packs should be devised and tested. Examination of the product
line should ensure that it is adequate and that marketing efforts are not being wastefully dispersed; the product mix with reference to competitive products. With some products, efficient sales service back-up is influential in attracting sales; this aspect deserves special attention, particularly with technical products or durable consumer products, such as television sets or washing machines.
In the area of product design, research is needed to improve standards of comfort, visual appeal, and suitability for the particular function expected of a product. It is the design aspect of products which has contributed substantially to the rising sales graph of a very wide range of products. Many domestic aids, e.g., vacuum cleaners, electric toasters, floor polishers, spin dryers, etc., are fundamentally the same mechanically as their predecessors of over a generation ago. But clever styling of their ‘shell’ has made them look new and in keeping with modern life. As the intrinsic differences between products of a type become smaller and more difficult to isolate, the design elements assume a greater influence on the buying decision.
2. Sales Research- This involves a thorough examination of the selling activities of the company. This is usually made by sales outlets and/or sales territories, and preferably analysed so that direct comparisons can be made with published data. Information existing within the company should be fully utilised and matched with external data referring to the particular industry and its products.
The position of a company in its market should be checked in relation to its competitors and these should be identified and ranked in order of importance. If company sales are falling, the overall trend in the market should be checked, particular attention being given to those segments of the total market which may account for the company’s main sales. Where it can be established that the total market is steady or improving in these significant areas, some urgent inquiries should be made to find out why company sales are not sharing this general trend. Research should aim to discover where these extra sales are being made-perhaps in outlets not adequately covered by the company sales plan. The effectiveness of the sales force should be examined; the distribution of territories, method of operation, system of remuneration, field supervision and training, all require careful analysis and assessment. Distribution plans should be compared for selling efficiency.
3. Customer Research- Customer research, as far retail products are concerned, includes consumer surveys to study the opinions and behaviour of ultimate users of the products. This may involve national enquiries using formal questionnaires with a sample carefully selected to be representative of the total population in that consumer class. It may also cover a series of ‘depth interviews’ to analyse the motivations of people in certain buying situations. A variety of techniques can be used, which are discussed later in this text. Over the years, a great deal of expertise has been accumulated in consumer marketing research, which has members of the public. tended to attract attention because of its direct impact on Customer research is important in export marketingwhich is assuming far greater significance in the overall & marketing operations of companies manufacturing a wide range of products. Successful exports are built on reliable and up-to-date information about the specific needs of customers. With competition on an international scale increasing in intensity, manufacturers need to be more aware than ever before of the factors which influence customers in their choice of products and of brands. The characteristic behaviour of buyers in the home market will generally be more familiar to manufacturers than that of buyers in overseas markets, especially where these are being entered for the first time.
4. Promotion Research- This is concerned with testing and evaluating the effectiveness of the various methods used in promoting a company’s products or services. These activities include exhibitions, public relations compaigns,merchandising aids such as show cards and point-of-sale stands, consumer and trade advertising, special promotional offers, etc. The variety of media available in most marketstelevision, press and magazine, cinema, radio, poster, exhibitions, etc.-and the wide choice of media within each of these classifications, make the task of selecting the most suitable media difficult in practice. So many variables affect purchasing decisions that only in very few cases can the real sales effectiveness of advertising be known with certainty.