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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