My Top 5 Takeaways Regarding Market Research

Hello!

This is my last post relating to Marketing Research and Strategy, as our semester is quickly coming to a close. For this post, I will be looking back over everything we have learned in class the last several weeks and compiling a list of my top five takeaways from the course.

#1 – Finding the right resources would have to be the most important takeaway, in my opinion. If the resources you are using are not credible or accurate, your research efforts will suffer. The key is finding relevant and reliable resources that have the same target or goal as you do. The output of your research will only be as good as the inputs that went into it.

#2 – Knowing and being aware of the boundaries and limitations involving market research is also very important. Some have the false belief that market research can be used to solve any issue, and that simply is not the case. There are only certain instances or situations in which market research should be implemented. If it is not going to be beneficial or the cost is going to be too high, then there really is no need to invest market research.

#3 – Ethics would be my next pick. This one is crucial because researchers have many guidelines that must be followed, otherwise they could face negative consequences. You have to know right from wrong, and if you are ever in question of whether or not something is acceptable, it probably is not.

#4 – Knowing the right form of research method to use can be very beneficial in market research. If you are not using an appropriate method, then your results run the risk of having no meaning or could serve no further purpose. You must assess what you are looking to gain through market research and then match the purpose with the best method, not the other way around.

#5 – Lastly, the best advice I could give regarding market research and the various methods it entails is gaining hands on experience. Reading and learning about it in a book is great and all, but you do not truly gain the full knowledge of it until you have done it yourself. For example, in our class, we learned all about focus groups through our textbook and PowerPoint presentations, but we did not grasp the complete concept until we devised a mock focus group that was comprised of our peers. Experience is priceless.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, as I have enjoyed testing my blogging capabilities. Who knows, maybe someday I will continue blogging, whether it be about marketing or something completely different.

Until then,
Lindsay G.

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Expanding on Ethics

Back again!

For this post, I have chosen to expand on one of my fellow peer’s posts from last week, in regards to ethics. I found his post to be particularly interesting because it mentions ethical guidelines one should follow. Oftentimes, the lines between right and wrong can appear to be blurred, and we are left to question our choices and actions. His blog post outlines a number of questions an individual can ask themselves to decide if they are doing right by themselves and the company they are working for. Some specific questions include:

“Does my decision treat me, or my company, as an exception to the rule?”
“Would I repel qualified job applicants by telling them about my decision?”
“Would I prefer avoiding the consequences of this decision?”

He also summarizes four things that are believed to be the biggest ethical concerns in market research: conducting unnecessary research, performing the wrong research, ignoring ongoing studies, and misusing research according to licensing agreements.

I support the discussion provided, and it has encouraged me to look further into how individuals hold themselves accountable in the workplace. After doing some research, I came across an article that discussed a similar topic. The author, Sam Amico, states, “ethics and behavior are just as important to most companies for performance as high morale and teamwork are two ingredients for success.” He outlines five key factors that relate to workplace ethics. These include: behavior, integrity, accountability, teamwork, and commitment. Although most, if not all, companies make it known to their employees what is expected of them and the behavior in which they should conduct themselves, it is important for employees to remain conscious and aware of their own conduct. So before you make a decision or behave in a particular way, you should ask yourself questions relating to those I mentioned in the beginning of this post. Awareness alone is enough to prevent potential problems from occurring.

You can find the link to my classmate’s blog below, as well as the additional article I mentioned, so check them out!

https://examplefba.wordpress.com

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/workplace-ethics-behavior-5239.html

 

Ethics

Hello!

This week’s blog post is one that I found to be very interesting, and I hope you will feel the same. We have been discussing ethical and unethical conduct in class, and we were to find an article relating to such and summarize it. Being as psychology is one of my fields of study, there is plenty of information on the topic. One case that I have always found to be interesting is known as ‘Little Albert’. This experiment was carried out in 1920 by a man named John Watson, known as the father of behaviorism. He was interested in discovering if the idea of fear was innate or a conditioned response. Watson tended to use orphans as his subjects in experiments, and this was no exception. ‘Little Albert’ was the nickname given to the 9-month-old that was chosen for this study. For two months, without any conditioning, the Albert was exposed to a white rabbit, a white rat, a monkey, masks with and without hair, cotton wool, and many other objects. At this point in the experiment, the child showed no signs of fear when playing with each. In the next phase, however, when Albert touched the white rate, Watson would strike a suspended steel bar with a hammer, creating a loud noise behind the child’s back. After this was done numerous times, Albert became very distressed when the white rat was shown to him. Throughout the process, he had associated the loud noise with the white rat, which resulted in fearful and emotional responses. He was never desensitized to his fear before leaving the experiment.

It is clear what the unethical practices in this case are. First of all, it is quite difficult to obtain the rights and permissions to use a small child in any type of psychological study, let alone one that intentionally inflicts fear and emotional distress. The same goes for using animals. Avoiding this is the obvious way to also avoid being unethical in research practices and studies. One of the worst mistakes made within this experiment, however, is that the experimenter did not desensitize or debrief the subject upon completion of the study. Because of this, Albert probably feared those animals/items for the rest of his life. The clear way to avoid an outcome such as this is to meet with the subject at the end of the experiment and explain the process and outcomes to them. In studies similar to the one I summarized above, it is crucial to undo any conditioning placed on the subject. Of course when this experiment took place, these were all completely acceptable practices, as ethics was not yet a topic of interest or discussion. However, in today’s world, a researcher must be very cautious of their practices, as they can have a lasting effect. So before you begin research, in whatever field or area of interest it may be, be sure to educate yourself on the latest procedures regarding ethical conduct to ensure there will not be any consequences to face later on.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s post!

Linked below is a list of psychological experiments that would be considered unethical today. Feel free to check them out!

 

http://listverse.com/2008/09/07/top-10-unethical-psychological-experiments/

The Boundaries & Limitations of Market Research

Hello again!

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our Marketing Research and Strategy class is partaking in a final project in which we will demonstrate all of the knowledge and experience we have gained throughout the semester to assist a client to whom our team has been assigned. In order to conduct this research effectively, we must be aware of the boundaries and limitations involved. As stated in our textbook, “The fact of the matter is that market research is a specialized business tool, powerful within its sphere but strictly bounded in its usefulness.” (McQuarrie, 2016, p332)

There are two boundary conditions in which market research is not beneficial. The first is that “market research is not effective in situations where the decision maker has to predict the future with some precision.” (McQuarrie, 2016, p344) This limitation exists because you cannot take a sample from the future, hence, attempting to precisely predict the future is nearly impossible. The second boundary “occurs when the cost of information, in dollars or time, outweighs the benefit received or when the precision of the information that can be gained for reasonable cost is inadequate.” (McQuarrie, 2016, p345) This limitation exists because, as we have previously learned and discussed, market research is a large investment. You must have enough time to collect an appropriate amount of data, and the cost of doing such is not cheap by any means. Therefore, if you are conducting market research for an issue that could be solved in other ways, you are not using your resources wisely or effectively.

Due to the aforementioned limitations above, I feel as though we cannot conduct effective qualitative or quantitative research for our client. The business our client operates is a small secondhand shop, that at the current moment, is not functioning efficiently. Although they do not necessarily have to predict the future in extensive detail, they should at least have a relative plan for the future, which I do not believe they have. Furthermore, they do not currently have the funds to conduct market research. They were given a budget at the beginning of the year for advertising, all of which had been depleted within the first two months of the year. Even if they did have the funds, the findings from the research would not be significant enough to outweigh what they had put into it.

Although they cannot conduct market research in a way that some businesses could, our project team is still working to devise plans for our client in order to recover from ongoing issues, as well as ensure the company stays successful and on track in the future.

Until next time!

 

McQuarrie, E. F. (2016). The Market Research Toolbox (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

 

 

 

Calculating Sample Sizes

Happy Sunday!

Over the last week or so, we’ve explored all of the different tools used in various types of quantitative research. It goes without saying that this type of research requires a sample that is representative of the total population. As stated by the author of our textbook, “Sampling to support surveys and other quantitative research is one of those key technical skills that does not form part of a general manager’s training but is central to competence in market research.” (McQuarrie, 2016, p283) Of course, in order to conduct research with a sample, you must first establish how large of a sample is necessary in order to obtain the results you want. I will illustrate how this can be done in the following example taken from our textbook:

A firm wishes to track satisfaction on a quarterly basis using a 10-point scale. They’d like a precision of +/- 0.05 – that is, to be able to interpret a change in average satisfaction from 8.90 to 8.95 as a true increase in customer satisfaction (95 percent confidence). What sample size will they need?

There are three pieces of information that are necessary to estimate the required sample size:

  • The decision maker’s tolerable margin of error, that is, desired degree of precision.
  • The confidence level required.
  • The variance, in the population, of the quantity being estimated via the research.

Once the correct information is gathered, there are three steps in computing the sample size:

  1. Square the Z value associated with the desired confidence interval. The value for this is found in tables showing the area under the curve for normally distributed data, however, for our purposes, I have followed the values laid out in our textbook.
  2. Multiply it by the population variance.
  3. Divide by the square of the desired population.

= 22 x .25 / (.05)2

= 4 x .25 / .0025 = 400 customers

In this case, I believe the choice of precision was reasonable. In the real world, the desired precision is selected by management judgment, on a case by case basis. Based on my own knowledge (and the help of the textbook), a degree of precision or margin of error of +/- .05 is average. If it was larger, the possibility of error would clearly be larger as well. If it was any smaller, it would require a much higher sample size, which could be quite difficult to obtain.

Hopefully this post helps you to figure out the best sample size, if you are ever looking to conduct qualitative research.

Until next week!

 

McQuarrie, E. F. (2016). The Market Research Toolbox (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

 

Evaluative Surveys

Hello!

This week in class, we are learning about evaluative surveys, which describe a customer’s stance toward the brand, or positive and negative experiences with product ownership. According to the author of our textbook, this type of survey is more beneficial than surveys that simply describe customer characteristics and behaviors. This is due, in part, to the nature of evaluative surveys, as they provide the business with actionable information. Meaning, if there is a drop in customer satisfaction, which might be keyed to a specific action or inaction by the company, they are able to pinpoint the problem and provide solutions for improvement. On a related note, if the company is falling behind a competitor in the customers’ perceptions, it is important to note. (McQuarrie, 2016, p197)

Although evaluative surveys are presented in many different forms, I’m going to provide an example of one that I am familiar with. Every semester, college students participate in course evaluations, one type of an evaluative survey, in which we get to have input on the positive and negative aspects of the courses we were enrolled in and the professors who taught them. They take no longer than ten minutes to complete, and they are made up of mostly interval scale questions, in which you rank each question or statement on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. This evaluation is beneficial for the student (or survey participant), as well as the professor (think of them as the marketer conducting the research).

From the students’ perspectives, these course evaluations are valuable because they allow students to provide feedback to their professors about things they enjoy about the course, as well as things that could be changed or improved, which provides a better learning environment for them. They are even more valuable to the professor because they receive the important feedback and opinions on the areas in which they can improve. They also get an overall sense of whether or not their students are satisfied. This way, they do not make the assumption that there is nothing that could be better, in regards to their teaching methods.

For instances such as this one, I agree with the author that evaluative surveys are often more valuable than surveys that only cover basic or generalized information.

Until next week!

 

McQuarrie, E. F. (2016). The Market Research Toolbox (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Implications of Qualitative Research

Hello again!

It has been a few weeks since I have posted, but rest assured, I am back! The focus for this week’s post is on the implications of qualitative research.

Qualitative research is the collecting, analyzing, and interpreting of unstructured data by observing what people do and say. This type of research method is beneficial when trying to obtain a better understanding of how customers feel and what is important to them because it allows for probing, open-ended questions, as opposed to closed-ended questions of quantitative research methods. The key implication of qualitative research is that it allows for new, unique perspectives, which you would not otherwise gain from other types of research. It even allows for the opportunity to gain insights on aspects that may be overlooked. Although some studies suggest that surprising and unexpected research results were particularly likely to be ignored, it is imperative for businesses to make use of every piece of information gathered because it could be beneficial in aspects that they were not even aware were suffering, or in areas that could simply use a bit of improvement.

 According to Qualitative Research in Action, by Susan Gillespie, “qualitative research results can be used to tell compelling customer stories, inspire employees and business leaders, and help research stakeholders gain a better understanding of the unique perspectives and experiences of their customers and prospects.” (Gillespie, 2014) In her article, she describes several qualitative studies that have generated findings that have had a positive impact on organizations’ successes. She claimed that the same insights would not have been possible through the use of quantitative research alone. One thing that I found particularly interesting in her article is her reassurance that qualitative research is not reserved only for big businesses with large budgets. It is a tool that can be utilized by organizations of all sizes. She even lays out how smaller organizations can go about conducting qualitative research, and from the tone of the article, she seems to have a bit of a bias toward small businesses.

Check out her article, linked below!

http://www.insightsassociation.org/article/qualitative-research-action