So, when we refer to research as a process, what we mean is that a series of steps must be followed, in a systematic way, in order to collect the information, analyze it, and be able to make decisions about the way we are going to act.
For this reason, companies must continuously carry out market research processes, since this allows them to know how to respond to changes in tastes, preferences, and the behavior of the market in general.
Types of market research
Then in marketing, market research can be divided into two categories:
1. Academic research
Academic research is also called scientific research because it is carried out to obtain information on topics of transcendental interest for the entire society related to the subject of marketing.
Therefore, this implies that it is not limited to the problems that a single company can face. That is, it analyzes problems of general interest and seeks long-term solutions.
Consequently, this research is carried out by specialized research agencies or by universities. The topics investigated in general help to better understand the consumer and the behavior of the market in a universal way.
This information is published in specialized media and is available to everyone. For this reason, a fundamental characteristic is that the information must be analyzed with complete impartiality and must be obtained with great scientific rigor.
2. Professional investigation
In contrast, professional research is usually conducted by a company's marketing research department, a consulting firm, or a company that does market research.
Above all, it is used to solve specific problems of a particular company, usually, they are problems that require a solution in the short term and for that reason, it is called practical research.
Undoubtedly, this information is only of interest to the company that carries out the market study. For this reason, the data obtained is jealously guarded and is not shared with other companies, since this would mean giving weapons to the competition since it would know our strengths and weaknesses.
In reality, the success of this form of research is to do it in the corresponding time and using resources appropriately, because this can be very expensive; if the information is not used in a beneficial and appropriate way.
Steps of a market investigation
The steps to conducting marketing research can be summarized as follows:
1. Statement of the problem
Now the approach to the problem is one of the fundamental steps to carry out a good market investigation since if it is not clearly defined what it is that we want to solve or investigate, the investigation can be a total failure.
For example, if a product's market share is declining, the problem can be defined by asking a question: Why is product X losing market share?
2. Preliminary investigation
Preliminary research is also a type of exploratory research that seeks to find answers with the data available within the company or with the people who work or have contact with it.
Then, continuing with the problem definition question: Why is product X losing market share? Some answers could be the high price of the product, the loss of quality, and the lack of innovation, among others.
Of course, these answers provide us with some clues as to how we can develop and focus the marketing research process.
3. Formulation of hypotheses
A hypothesis is the provisional explanation of a problem, through the relationship of variables, one dependent and one independent. The answers obtained in the preliminary investigation help to formulate the hypotheses.
A hypothesis of the previous case could be formulated as follows:
"The cause of the low participation of product X is its high price."
The dependent variable is low participation and the independent variable is its high price.
The hypotheses are the basis on which the whole subject of the investigation must revolve because, at the end of this process, they must be verified or rejected.
4. Data collection
This step consists of searching for the necessary information to validate the hypotheses, first secondary sources or information that is already available to be consulted and is available to anyone who is sought.
Therefore, if this information is not enough, we proceed to search for primary data, beginning with the determination of the number of people to be investigated.
a. Choose the sample
If a census is carried out, 100% of the population is investigated, and if we only take a part of the population, a sample is selected that is representative of the market that we want to investigate.
b. Choosing research instruments
Then the instruments that will be used in the collection of information are defined and designed.
They are a set of previously prepared questions that are asked to an interviewee and can be divided into four types.
Surveys by questionnaires: They are of individual application and closed response.
In-depth interview: They are of individual application and open response.
Focus groups: They are group applications and open responses.
Nominal groups: They are group applications and closed responses.
This method allows for obtaining information based on a real situation. To be effective it has to be totally impartial.
A situation is generated and the behavior of the consumer or the market is observed.
5. Selection, entry, and analysis of data
Once you have the data, proceed as follows:
a. data selection
In the selection of data, those that have been obtained incorrectly, data that are incomplete, and those that have been misunderstood are excluded, due to the way the questions are worded.
b. Data entry
Immediately after the data has been selected, it is entered into the computer and descriptive statistics are used to process and organize it.
c. Analysis of results
This is the crucial part of the investigation because, with the data obtained and its analysis, decisions are made to know how to act and find the appropriate solution to the problems.
6. Preparation of the market research report
The market research report is presented in a simple and clear way so that anyone who reads it can be able to understand it. The parts that an investigation report must carry are the following.
Description of methodology
Analysis of data