Market research - introduction
Marketing is about providing the consumer with the products and services that they want now and in the future. Marketing involves the provision of information, and the persuasion of the consumer to act. It also involves the collection and analysis of information, particularly about the market in which the firm is operating. Market research looks at:
- The products and services of the business.
- The products and services of the competition.
- The desires and wants of actual and potential consumers, now and in the future.
- The state of the market and the economy, now and in the future.
The purpose of market research is to reduce risk by providing appropriate data to support market planning. Effective planning reduces the likelihood of unwanted products being launched into a market. The main tools of market research are based on data gathering and analysis.
Market research can be expensive, so the firm hopes it is cost effective by positively influencing sales and the 'bottom line'. However, markets and economies are dynamic and external environments volatile. Inevitably some predictions about the consumer behaviour and economic performance may prove to be inaccurate even if well funded and conducted by respected professionals.
The results of market research are available to the whole company, but are particularly useful for the marketing department. A firm does not have to do its own market research; it can use external market research firms that specialise in doing work under contract. They are often part of, or associated with advertising agencies.