Marketing research influences market strategy development and its implementation since it is a systematic approach, which involves objective data collection and their analysis regarding a specific target market, its competitors and business environment (Parente 2009, p.102). In essence, market research is crucial, because it plays important roles in business ventures. Marketing research helps companies to obtain important information on market opportunities and business problems (Richards & Gilligan 2005, p.39). This enables companies to make informed decisions on their marketing strategies. In this regard, the following analysis explores different ways in which marketing research influences marketing strategy development and its implementation.
First, a marketing research helps in identifying business opportunities, which are necessary in developing more effective market strategies. In a business, the target market is the potential customers that it seeks to get and maintain for its products. For example, a business that deals in perfumes, the target market is the adult consumers from the middle-income class who have the financial capability to purchase such products (Schrnalensee 1978, p.489). The increased demand for the products created the need to start the business and make sure that the products could reach the potential consumers. Usually, the specific perfumes that the customers need are manufactured in small quantities and outside the country, meaning that the local consumers might not access them in time. Through extensive marketing of the products, a company would be able to reach the targeted consumers who require such perfumes to meet their luxury needs. The broad target market for a company includes the primary consumers and small scale businesses supplying similar products. Obviously, different kinds of buyers have unique preferences for the products (Zanoni 2011, p.42).
Next, a market research helps companies to segment their market, which enhance appropriate market strategy that leads to a competitive advantage in particular marketplace. This strategic approach is attained by using secondary market research, which helps in determining relevant market segment, while taking into account, factors such as behavioral patterns, usage rate and demographic (Jantsch 2011, p.78). Market segmentation is dividing the potential consumers according to different categories and unique characteristics. The consumers could be classified into various classes such as gender, income, age, level of education, family size, and religion (Shimp 2007, p.48). The segmentation is very useful, because it enables a company select the promotion style it would use to sell the products. In this regard, three segments namely gender, income and age are explored.
The consumer’s gender determines his or her choice, for example, perfume preference, because of one’s orientation and makeup needs. Research indicates that females have a higher preference for a wide range of perfumes than their male counterpart. Therefore, when marketing the products, a company should understand its target market based on their gender and choices. Since men and women’s preferences and behavior vary and affect their choices of the products in the market, appropriate analysis should enable a company prioritize the varieties to purchase in larger quantity (Parente 2006, p.47). Therefore, the kind of perfumes that the males prefer differs with the ones that the females would like, and this affects the quantity of the products that a company should purchase to avoid stocking the unwanted ones.
The choice and ability to purchase the products is based on one’s financial capability. The perfumes are reasonably high, thus affecting the people whose income level is low, even though they might prefer the products (Scott 2007, p.92). For instance, the perfumes are luxurious products, which are purchased after one has acquired the basic needs. The means that the low income earners would not get enough money to buy the products, thus affects their choice for the wide range of perfumes available in the market (Rossiter & Bellman 2005, p. 63).
When buying perfumes, the person’s age plays a critical role. The young consumers would buy only the products for which they have common knowledge about. This group of customers does not have extensive information about all the products available in the market. As they advance in age, they would acquire the information about other varieties in the market and definitely change their mind and choices of the perfumes to use. At that level, they would consider the products, which they previously used as outdated, though the other young consumers. Therefore, age affects consumer behavior and choice of products (Shimp 2011, p.72)
Moreover, marketing research is conducted to facilitate the identification of a market problem, which is necessary when making market positioning strategy (Scott 2010, p.51). Such problem identification market research is used to make market strategy that solves particular market problems. Positioning strategy of a company is very useful in determining the consumer behavior and response to the new products. Potential customers should identify with the new products if its introduction and marketing strategy is appealing (Shugan 1987, p.16). Through positioning of the products, the prospective consumers would get relevant information that helps in decision making, thus influence their choice for the perfumes.
Proper positioning would aim at outdoing the competitors. In this regard, a company would carry out targeted advertising to make sure that the information reaches the intended consumers (Nisbet, Thomas & Barreti 2003, p.248). The positioning strategy should aim at achieving company objectives, thus must be clear and carried out in an effective manner. When positioning the product, a company should focus on the quality that makes it so superior than the rest. Once the quality of the product is communicated properly to the potential buyers, they would be convinced that the perfumes could meet their luxury needs and be ready to purchase the products (Sawyer 2011, p.27). The consumer perception about the product in the market is very important in determining their reaction once the product is launched (Smallwood & Conlisk 1979, p.18).
A company can also position the products in the market through offering low prices, thus being able to attract more buyers. Potential consumers prefer to acquire quality products at relatively lower costs. Therefore, the price that a company sets for its products might be a competitive strategy for positioning to acquire a larger market share compared to its competitors. A company should understand the market dynamics before formulating and carrying out the positioning strategy (Steele 1977, p.669). However, organizations that do not conduct market research should not perform better, because they lack efficient marketing strategies to increase their profitability.
There are several issues on consumer behavior and consumption pattern, which are sensitive. This implies that it is often difficult to ask questions on such areas and to obtain honest answers from the respondents. Such issues touches on personal health information, religion, political views, race, criminal records, membership to trade union, sexual behavior and sex preference, among others (Eichengreen, Feldman & Liebman 2011, p.63).
Some sensitive issues are ethical in nature, which can be faced during information gathering, include the following. First ethical issue, prior to emailing out the questionnaires to the selected pool of respondents, the interviewees might need to seek permission from their trade union officials since they are not allowed to respond to some issues about such organizations, to which they are members (Errigo & Zempol 2011, p.123). In this regard, a branch manager may need to speak to a Secretary General located at the national head office of a market researcher’s intention to conduct a survey. A secretary then reviews the market research questionnaires and suggests for the researcher to speak to human resources directly, copying the branch manager in the email conversation. After a human resources manager reviews the questionnaires, and if he or she is happy with the content, the researcher can be given the approval to circulate the questionnaires via e-mail (Hutton & Mulhern 2002, p.36). Bottleneck of process is the approval of questionnaires by the Human Resources Manger and the Secretary General, as well as getting all the respondents responses back in time, because the required information on membership to a trade union may be very sensitive. In this regard, personal interviews are not appropriate when seeking for such delicate information (Belch & Belch 2009, p.28).
Researchers may overcome the difficulties of collecting these types of sensitive data by using descriptive research methodology, which involves the administration of open-ended questionnaires that are non-offensive in nature. Sensitive information should only be asked towards the end of the questionnaire or interview, especially after sufficient information has been gathered (Kotler & Armstrong 2009, p.145). The researcher should specifically use approaches such as surveys, questionnaires and interview to obtain data for analysis (Loudon, Stevens & Wrenn 2004, p.47). The survey should be administered to a predetermined number of participants drawn from the target population. The participants should be expected to fill the survey forms and send them back to the researcher for analysis (Grewal & Levy 2011, p.54). The questionnaire should contain questions, which elicit answers directly related to the topic of study. The questionnaires should contain both structured and semi-structured questions (Brousseau 2002, p.49).
Prior to undertaking the research, the researcher would seek consent from the participants and the relevant administrative authorities. The participants should be given surety that the information recorded during the data collection process is to be kept confidential and that it would not be made available to a third party. In addition, the researcher ought to give surety that privacy and anonymity are to be observed and maintained throughout the research study (Naert & Alain 1973, p.339). Given that the information collected from participants is original and the content not copied from any source, consent should be sought from the participants (Best & Alan 1977, p.728).
An explanatory letter should be sent to each of the participants prior to the interviews and questionnaires. The explanatory letter, a cover letter outlining the purpose of the research, its aim and giving a surety that the research is for marketing purposes would be sent (Friesner & Rosenman 2001, p.443). It should be noted that no participant would be coerced or made to act under duress during the sample selection and interviewing process, or during the completion of the questionnaires. The participants ought to voluntarily agree to be part of the research and are part of the briefing. Moreover, proper budgeting is necessary for the whole research process (HM Treasury 2011, p.25). Before the interviews are audio-taped, the researcher should seek consent to record all responses (Kerin, Hartley & Rudelius 2010, p.84). Furthermore, the participants would be assured of the possibility of having the results back to authenticate whether they conform to what was said during the interviewing process.
Secondary data used in the marketing research study, the researcher should ensure that literary works making up the secondary materials are acknowledged (Beckwith 1973, p.2). All these ethical considerations should be carried out to ensure that originality, validity and reliability are achieved. In sum, the marketing research should seek to verify the information presented from various sources, and take a methodical approach to its presentation to manage very sensitive issues on consumer behavior and consumption pattern.