Marketing research process generally includes six steps. These steps are as follows:
1. Problem Identification and Definition
This is the introductory phase of the marketing research process. Basically, it involves a clear and precise understanding of the problem. For defining the accurate problem it is necessary to discuss with the decision makers, interview the industry experts, analysis of secondary data, and, perhaps, some qualitative research, such as focus groups. Once the problem has been properly defined, the research can be designed and conducted properly.
2. Development of an Approach to the Problem
The next step is to come up with a nearest approach which is aimed at solving the identified problem. This step includes formulating an objective or theoretical framework, analytical models, research questions, hypotheses, and _ identifying characteristics or factors that can influence the research design. During this process, the research team has to analyse and examine a variety of factors such as the company’s targets, goals and objectives, financial resources, skill sets, manpower, industry environment, changing business trends, etc. This phase often involves joint discussions between the research team, industry experts and higher management.
3. Research Design Formulation
A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the marketing research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the research questions, and provide the information needed for decision making. The solidity of the research design alone decides the success or failure of the research program to a large extent. This step is time-consuming and it needs careful thinking and precise execution.
4. Data Collection
This process mainly involves a lot of field-work activities such as outdoor interviews, survey campaigns and feedback sessions which are done by the experts. Data can be collected through personal interviews, by telephone, or through mail or of Internet surveys, group discussions etc. Proper selection, training, supervision, and evaluation of the field force help minimize data- collection errors.
5. Data Structuring and Analysis
Once the sufficient and relevant data has been collected then it is the time to systematically organize the data so that it can be interpreted and analyzed by decision makers. This step includes the editing, coding, transcription, and verification of data. Each questionnaire or observation form is inspected, or edited, and, if necessary, corrected. Number or letter codes are assigned to represent each response to each question in the questionnaire. Verification ensures that the data from the original questionnaires have been accurately transcribed, while data analysis, guided by the plan of data analysis, gives meaning to the data that have been collected. Multivariate techniques are used for analyzing data.
6. Report Generation and Presentation
The entire project should be documented in a written report which addresses the specific research questions identified, describes the approach, the research design, data collection, and a data analysis procedure adopted, and presents the results and the major findings.
All the effort that goes into designing an approach, developing a research design, collecting data and finally analyzing the data, completely goes waste, if the findings and the results are not presented properly. It is imperative that the whole marketing research project be properly documented and accounted for. The entire purpose of the research campaign is to enable the higher management to make proper decisions which will benefit the progress and the sales of the concerned product or service. Hence, it is most essential to present research findings accurately, clearly and relevantly. For this purpose, the use of appropriate statistics, graphs, pie-charts, etc. is recommended.