What is Marketing Research?
Basically, marketing research is understanding your potential and actual customers. Find out what catches customers’ attention by observing their actions and drawing conclusions from what you see. To put it more formally, in the words of the American Marketing Association, marketing research is “the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services.”
Marketing research is an organized way of finding objective answers to questions every business must answer to succeed. Every business owner-manager must ask:
- Who are my customers and potential customers?
- What kind of people are they?
- Can and will they buy?
- Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want – at the best place, at the best time, and in the right amounts?
- Are my prices consistent with what buyers view as the products’ values?
- Are my promotional programs working?
- What do customers think of my business?
- How does my business compare with my competitors?
Marketing research is not a perfect science; it deals with people and their constantly changing likes and dislikes which can be affected by hundreds of influences, many of which simply can’t be identified. Marketing research does, however, try to learn about markets scientifically. That simply, is to gather facts in an orderly, objective way; to find out how things are, not how you think they are or would like them to be; what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell them.
Why Do It?
It’s tough – impossible – to sell people what they don’t want. (Remember the Nehru jacket?) That’s pretty obvious. Just as obvious is the fact that nothing could be simpler than selling people what they do want. Big business has to do market research to find that out. The same reason holds for small business.
Business owners often have a “feel” for their customers – their markets – that comes from years of experience. Experience can be a two-edged sword, though, since it comprises a tremendous mass of facts acquired at random over a number of years. Information about markets gained from long experience may no longer be timely enough to base selling decisions on. In addition, some “facts” may be vague, misleading impressions or folk tales of the “everybody knows that…” variety.
Marketing research focuses and organized marketing information. It ensures that such information is timely. It provides what you need to:
- Reduce business risks,
- Spot problems and potential problems in your current market,
- Identify and profit from sales opportunities,
- Get basic facts about your market to help you make better decisions and set up plans of action.