Market research is the type of research conducted by companies to study the needs of new and existing customers and other competitors. Market research aims at understanding the best ways of connecting consumers and company’s products with the hope that the products will meet the needs of the customers and that the customers will buy them (Wilson, 2006). It also aims to understand why the customers would choose to buy competitor’s products. The data collected assists the management of the bank or any other company in decision making with relation to how to improve customer service delivery and focus on products that meet the needs of the customers.
In 2009 Barclays bank hoped to attract new student accounts but before doing this, the bank had to understand this target market. The only way that the bank would understand this target market was through market research. Through the research, the bank would be able to tell what the students segment needed from the bank and would consequently provide appropriate services and products that would add value to the lives of students.
Barclays bank has been conducting two main types of market research; namely primary and secondary research. Primary research entails finding out and collecting new information on specific areas for a specific purpose (Stevens, 2006). These enquires and data collection involves direct questioning of the respondents through either face-to-face surveys, or online questionnaires, postal questionnaires, focus group and telephone interviews. Barclays bank started by asking internally two key questions; the first one, who should be our key customers and the second, what are their needs. This form of research enabled the bank to obtain factual insights on where to strart to work.
The next type of the research Barclays bank employed is the qualitative and quantitative research where the bank employed the services of an external agency to conduct an opinion panel. This was through online questionnaires and the data received from it was from the market itself. Quantitative research presents data in a numerical form like charts, graphs and tables, and the bank found out that 81% of the students respondents held savings accounts while 32% held investments savings account. Qualitative data, on the other hand gives information on consumer perceptions like how they feel about the bank’s products and services, what they like and do not like and what they would want from a new product.
The other type of research employed by the bank is the secondary research, which makes use of the existing information rather than conducting new research. Barclays receives this information from a variety of sources among them the market research reports, competitor market literature, sales figures and government publications (Lyndon et al, 2008). For instance, in 2009 Barclays conducted a secondary research and found out that students accounts make up 400 hundred thousands of the total 5.4 million new accounts. Secondary research is faster to conduct but does not give specific outcomes on the topic of study.
Through the information gathered from the research, the bank was able to understand the students and the fact that they relied heavily on credit for survival. Students needed and always wanted high-tech gadgets like laptops and other electrical goods. These students also wanted different types of accounts to manage their borrowing and spending and that incentives offered alone would not motivate students to choose that particular product.
The insight from this research was crucial in helping Barclays bank to develop products for the students. This would go a long way in attracting the new students’ accounts while at the same time retaining the existing ones for a lifetime profitable relationship. With this information, the bank was able to develop a student account that met the concerns of this particular target market, which were flexible banking, credit availability and right type of incentives.