It is difficult to formulate strategic objectives if no knowledge exists on the market size, competitors’ shares, or the growth prospects of the market.
Most industrial companies specialize in a narrow market sector and it is within this niche that facts will be collected. Even if the sales manager feels his or her knowledge of the market is only rudimentary, it is worthwhile putting it down on paper. This will help to focus a picture in the mind and, perhaps of greater importance, it will show information gaps which can later be filled as more facts come to light. Experience is important for doing marketing research. Some large multinational marketers, are shifting research expenditures away from Western Europe and toward emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Consumer research is therefore critical to aid marketers trying to cement brand preferences early on as these economies develop. Online research is cheap, fast, and the wave of the future. As an alternative to offline focus groups, custom online panels of consumers can be formed for qualitative research on new product ideas or new ads. Taking the do-it-yourself approach rather than outsourcing to a market research firm is attractive in a cost-cutting era, but you risk getting no more than what you pay for. The opinions of convenience sample of an enthusiastic online brand community may not represent all users. Just as important as knowing where to cut research is knowing where not to cut. When marketers are creating fewer new ads and introducing fewer new products, it is doubly important to use rigorous pretesting to select the strongest alternatives.
For key products, running conjoint studies to check on shifts in price elasticities of demand and price-attribute tradeoffs can usefully improve the profitability of pricing decisions at a time when cash is king.