Consumer Research

What is Consumer Research?

The field of Consumer Research developed as an extension of the field of Market Research to enable the marketers to predict how the consumers would react in the marketplace and to understand the reasons of the various purchase decisions taken.

What is Positivism ?

Consumer Research undertaken from a managerial perspective to improve strategic marketing decisions is known as Positivism.

Positivist research is quantitative and empirical and tries to identify cause and effect relationships in buying situations. It is often supplemented with qualitative research.

Qualitative Research is concerned with probing deep within the consumer’s psyche to understand  the motivations, feelings, and emotions that drive consumer behaviour. Qualitative research findings cannot be projected to larger populations but are used primarily to provide new ideas and insights for the development of the positioning strategies.

What is Interpretivism ?

Interpretivism, a qualitative research perspective, is generally more concerned with understanding the act of consuming rather than the act of buying. 

Interpretivists view consumer behaviour as a subset of human behaviour, and increased understanding as a key to eliminate some of the ills associated with destructive consumer behaviour.

Positivists generally used Probability Studies that can be generalized to larger populations.

Interpretivists tend to view consumption experiences as unique situations that occur at specific moments in time, and therefore, cannot be generalized to larger populations.

These 2 theoretical research orientations are highly complementary and, when used together, provide a deeper and more insightful understanding of consumer behaviour than either approach used alone.

The Consumer Research Process, whether quantitative or qualitative in approach consists of 6 steps:

  1. Defining Objectives
  2. Collecting Secondary Data
  3. Developing a Research Design
  4. Collecting Primary Data
  5. Analyzing the Data
  6. Preparing a Report of the Findings.

The research objectives should be formulated jointly by the marketer and the person or company that will conduct the actual research.

The finding from the secondary data and exploratory research are used to refine the research objectives. The collection of secondary data includes both the sources – internal and external.

Quantitative Research designs consist of 1. Observation, 2. Experimentation or Surveys, and, for the most part, 3. Questionnaires with or without attitude scales are used to collect the data.

Qualitative Research- data collection methods include 

  1. Depth Interviews
  2. Focus Groups
  3. Projective Techniques
  4. Metaphor Analysis.

Customer Satisfaction measurement is an integral part of consumer research.

In large, quantitative studies, the researcher must make every effort to ensure that the research findings are RELIABLE ( that a replication of the study would provide the same results) and VALID (that they answer the specific questions for which the study was originally undertaken).

The selection and design of the sample is crucial since the type of sample used determines the degree to which the results of the study are representative of the population.

After the data collection, the results are analysed and specific analytical techniques applied respectively to qualitative or quantitative data.

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Market Segmentation

Market Segmentation and diversity are complementary concepts. Without a diverse marketplace, composed of many different peoples with different backgrounds, cultures,environments,paradigms, thoughts processes, interests, needs and wants, there really would be little reason to segment markets.

Earlier Mass Marketing – selling the same product or service package to everyone, was the most widely used marketing strategy, before the widespread adoption of the marketing concept. In many countries this is still developing and yet to become the part of the marketing and management DNA.

Market Segmentation is to be followed as a logical way to meet customers needs. Market Segmentation is defined as the process of dividing a potential market into distinct subsets of consumers with a common need or characteristic and selecting one or more segments to target with a specially designed marketing mix or product, price, promotion, place etc.,

Besides supporting in the development of new products, Market Segmentation research also supports in the redesigning and repositioning of existing products and services and in the creation of the appropriate promotional materials, including the selection of the most effective media for promotion.

Market Segmentation Strategies benefit both the customers and the marketers, hence they received full support from both parties. Market Segmentation is now widely used by most of the organizations including manufacturers, retailers, channels and even the not for profit sector.

9 Major Classes of Consumer Characteristics serve as the most common basis for Market Segmentation. These include:

  1. Geographic Factors
  2. Demographic Factors
  3. Psychological Factors
  4. Pyschographic Factors
  5. Socio-Cultural Factors
  6. Use -related Factors (Application)
  7. Use – Situation Factors (Environment)
  8. Benefits Expected and
  9. Hybrid Forms of Segmentation like Psychographic-demographic profiles  or geodemographic factors.

Key Criteria for Market Segmentation include:

1. Identification

2. Sufficiency

3. Stability

4. Accessibility.

 

Once one identifies potential target markets, one must decide whether to target 1 segment i.e  concentrated marketing OR to target several market segments i.e. differentiated marketing.

One has to then develop a positioning strategy for each of the selected target segment.

In some cases, one can recombine 2 or more market segments into one larger segments.

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Customer and Consumer Behaviour

The study of consumer behaviour enables the marketers to fully understand and be able to predict the consumer behaviours. It deals with not only with what the customer buy, but also with why, when, where, how, and how often they buy it.

Consumer Research is the Methodology that is used to study Customer and Consumer behaviour and it takes place at every stage/phase of the consumption process: before, during, and after the purchase.

The foundation fo the consumer behaviour is the Marketing Concept. Marketing Concept is the business orientation that evolved in the second half of the last century and is picking up more and more in the current environment. Marketing Concept was the evolution of the industry over the earlier concepts of production and product.

The 3 major strategies tools fo marketing are Market Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

The Marketing Mix consists of a company’s products and services offering(S) to customers and the pricing, promotion and distribution methods needed to accomplish the deal.

The Professional Marketers make the customers the core of the company’s culture and ensure that all employees view any interaction with the customers as a part of a Customer Relationship and not just a Transaction. The Top 3 drivers of successful relationships between marketers and customers are customer value, high levels of customer satisfaction, and building a  structure for customer retention.

Consumer behaviour is multi disciplinary, i.e it is based on various theories and concepts about people that have been developed by scientists in such diverse disciplines as economics, cultural anthropology, social psychology, sociology and psychology.

Consumer behaviour has to be an integral part of strategic market planning. 

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