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Marketing Research and Research Methodology

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Marketing decisions needs marketing information, which is provided by Marketing Information System. One of the components of marketing information system is marketing research. Marketing research is understood as the systematic procedure of defining marketing problem, identifying research objectives, developing research plan, collecting data, tabulating, analyzing, interpreting data, converting them into findings and providing suggestions to solve the marketing problem(s).  The marketing researcher starts with the secondary data to solve the marketing problem, as they are inexpensive and easily available. But when the marketing problem cannot be solved by secondary data, then he plans to collect primary or fresh data.

Researcher has to develop the research plan. Marketing researcher has to decide on sampling frame, population, size of sample, sampling method. There are both probability and non-probability sampling methods. The nature of research study determines the usage of sampling method. As such there is no rule on size of sample, but the rule of thumb says that sample size should be at least 1percent to 2 percent of the population. Stratified random sampling method generally gives a sample which is more representative of the population. In stratified random sampling, population is divided into strata on basis of age, income, occupation, area and a random sample is drawn from each strata. The advantage of this method is that each and every element of population has a known and equal chance of being selected in sample, and hence sample is more representative of the population.

After sampling, the researcher has to develop questionnaire. Questionnaire may have both open and closed end questions. The questions must be related to the research problem, and if personal information like age and income is required, it should be asked at the end of questionnaire. Cross questions can be helpful to check the accuracy of response of respondents. Next Marketing researcher has to decide on contact methods which can be personal interview, mailing questionnaire, e-mailing questionnaire, focus group, surveying respondents etc.

The questionnaires have to assessed, and incomplete questionnaires must be removed. Collected data has to be tabulated, analyzed and interpreted using appropriate statistical methods resulting into findings and suggestions to solve the marketing problem(s). Primary data collection is costly and time consuming but they are fresh and related to research problem. Secondary data collection is time saving and inexpensive, but they may be outdated and have been collected by some other researhcer for some other purpose(s). Marketing research is systematic research process to solve marketing problem(s). 
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