ROLES AND TYPES OF MARKETING RESEARCH There are some general categories of research - primary and secondary; qualitative and quantitative. Primary research is carried out primarily for an organisation's own use and is specifically commissioned to answer particular questions. Secondary research uses research already carried out by someone else for some other purpose. Desk research checks secondary sources before carrying out the more expensive primary research. Quantitative research delivers hard data - such as numbers and percentages of buyers who, for example, buy certain products or who remember advertisements. This is information on behaviour i.e. WHAT they do, know, think, etc. Qualitative research delivers soft data which reveals WHY people behave in a particular way i.e. why they buy or why they remember. Research can basically provide information on almost anything from markets to competitors to distributors to customers, their behaviour, their attitudes, their intentions and more. Market Reports provide information on markets, their size, structure, key players, their market share, trends, prices and more. These reports are published annually and are available as secondary sources. Retail Audits measure market sales, competitor's sales, market share, prices, special offers, stock levels week by week or day by day. Customer Surveys use carefully structured questionnaires to measure customer attitudes, levels of awareness, intentions to purchase, actual purchases and much more. Qualitative research techniques such as focus groups and in-depth interviews can reveal deeper customer thoughts, motivations, perceptions and reactions to old and new products, packs, prices or advertisements. Customer reactions can also be measured by simulated test markets and, ultimately, real test markets. Consumer panels provide information on customer lifestyles, media habits and consumption patterns; while insights into future customer lifestyles are forecast by social forecasters and futurologists. Research is available for almost any type of information required. But remember - always start with desk research - 'think secondary first' always see if someone else has already done the work for you. Mind you, you need to look carefully at the relevance and accuracy of other people's information before using it to make your own decisions. Finally, check why you need the information in the first place. Ask what decisions it will affect? This helps to screen out the less important information which can drown a busy manager. After that you can choose what type of marketing research best suits your information needs.
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