Marketing Research Report. The Correct Format Is the Key to Success


We continue our series of marketing papers for curious students who are eager to conduct research and write correct reports.

Annual report is one of the main documents which is included in the list of tasks to be done by a corresponding department of a company, enterprise, or modern production. It is important to ensure that at the time of writing this document (usually in the beginning of the next year, following a reporting year) a marketing department has at its disposal all information necessary for an analysis in an accessible and clear form. It is also necessary to create monthly reports that include the main points of the annual one. This should be monthly sales reports, effectiveness of the assortment and advertising, and other facts.

This is not bureaucracy. A correctly written paper of this kind will help to protect a firm from serious mistakes and miscalculations, outline the ways of further work, point out the shortcomings and irrationally spent resources. This is a mirror in which an entrepreneur sees everything without embellishment. But in order to get this magic tool, you need to work very well and know where and how to take information.

It should be kept in mind that for various fields of activity – wholesale and retail trade, production, services, consulting, etc. – the content of reports should be adjusted in accordance with specific activities of a relevant company, plant, or industrial and commercial unit. Further we offer to use the term "project".

Annual report usually includes the following main points.


  • Purpose of a report: it can be an analysis of production activities or development of plans and offers for a subsequent period, etc.
  • References to previous reports or documents;
  • Description of initial data on the basis of which the analysis is done, the methods of obtaining, storing, and updating it.

Basic Concepts and Definitions

In this paragraph you need to provide a description of the basic concepts and definitions that will be used in the report. For example, it is useful to define and briefly describe the main groups of consumers that exist in the market in question, show the classifier with the indication of the main characteristics and price ranges of a relevant product or service, offer interpretation of the basic terms and concepts.

General Information

  • Start date of a project;
  • Description of the main types of business activities involved in the project;
  • Project goals, development strategy;
  • Main indicators for a past period;
  • Level of technology and service;
  • Brief description of the main types of products or services.

Description of the Selected Market

  • Potential consumers interested in products or services offered;
  • Segmentation of the market;
  • Brief information on competitiveness of the selected market;
  • Brief description of activities and features of working with suppliers of goods, components, raw materials, etc. (the reasons for choosing a particular supplier, the advantages of working with specific suppliers, the difficulties in working with them).

Type of Production, Trading Methods, or Other Types of Business Activity

A brief description of the type of business organization should be provided in your paper. For example, here is how you can describe production:

  • Serial, small-scale, single one; discontinuous or continuous one;
  • Sources of raw materials and components;
  • Used technologies with the emphasis on possible competitive advantages;
  • Secondary production, elimination of waste.

Retail or wholesale trade:

  • Chain stores or several shops not joined into a single network by assortment, price policy, style, etc.
  • Unity of the trading process at the stores of the network;
  • Work of sellers or sales managers with clients (style of communication, appearance, qualification and competence, knowledge of the features of the offered products, mobility, availability of instructions for work of sellers, etc.);
  • Design of retail outlets and chain stores.

Description of Consumers

Retail consumer:

  • Social portrait of a consumer (age, income level, education, employment and type of activity, marital status, etc.);
  • More complete information about a consumer (hobbies, TV programs viewed, favorite literature, press, radio station, car brand, places of residence, living conditions (apartment, country house, etc.));
  • Motivation for acquisition of a relevant product or service (satisfaction physiological needs, safety of consumers or their loved ones, self-affirmation, care for their loved ones, respect, sense of belonging to a particular social group, etc.);
  • Description of a consumer’s decision-making process when purchasing the relevant product or service;
  • Advantages a client gets when buying the corresponding product or service;
  • Analysis of consumers’ residence (with these data you will be able to formulate recommendations for the placement, for example, of panel or targeted advertising, the location of new shopping and production areas, etc.).

Wholesale consumer:

  • Description of relevant groups of wholesale consumers (production, stores, intermediary firms, foreign companies, etc.);
  • More detailed description of each wholesale consumer;
  • Description of options for the use of purchased products by the wholesale consumer;
  • Description of basic principles and organization of work with wholesale consumers (systems of calculations, supplies, most popular models or products, brands of products, frequency and nature of complaints, degree of satisfaction with the assortment, quality and technical characteristics of products, etc.).

Description of Location of a Relevant Production Unit

As in the previous paragraphs, here the description for the retailer, the wholesale buyer, and for production in general will be considered separately. Of course, in your report, where it will be a question of a particular existing or fictitious enterprise, you will use only one option, which is preferable.

Each firm chooses its priorities and, depending on that, you see who should be described – a wholesale or retail buyer. If you are afraid to get confused, ask professionals from for help.

In this section, attention is focused on the location of outlets, presence of traffic streams, convenience of entrance for customers, analysis of related agencies and possible competitors, etc.

Commodity Policy

This part should have a different kind of analysis of various indicators. In particular, research on:

  • Reasons for forming the existing assortment, estimate of its optimality;
  • Profitability, profit margins by commodity groups or products;
  • Sales of similar assortment groups or products from competitors;
  • Seasonal sales;
  • Effectiveness of availability of a certain product or group of products.

Pricing Policy

Here you analyze the basic principles of a pricing policy, taking into account features, purchasing abilities, and income level of consumer groups to which the relevant production or commercial unit is oriented.

Additional Services and Activities

While describing these services, it is possible to adhere to the main points, which make the description of the main activity:

  • Reasons for emergence and brief description of additional activities;
  • Assessment of the level of demand for their results;
  • Pricing system;
  • Description of market conditions and competitors;
  • Description of consumers by additional activities;
  • Promotion of products from an additional type of activity to the market.

Methods of Sales Promotion

You describe the main goals and objectives set for a given production or commercial unit and an advertising concept that was approved for a relevant reporting period.

Competition and Market

You indicate the levels of competition that are relevant for the target market, give information on competitors operating in the selected market segment, and analyze your own competitive advantages.

Conclusions, Forecasts, and Recommendations

It is advisable to do this in accordance with the main points of the report. A general conclusion is necessarily made about effectiveness of activity of the corresponding project for the analyzed period. It is not necessary to make this section large and to collect opinions of different employees regarding the issues of improvement of work. This is not a narrative, so everything should be based on figures and facts that have already been stated. If a certain conclusion that will be useful in the future can be drawn on their basis, then it should be provided here.

Additional Materials

Here you can add graphs, tables, charts, and other additional materials that clearly illustrate the content. Do not get carried away and do not turn your paper into a drawing. It is enough to place the most basic tables in-text that will help to make perception more visual. Observe a reasonable balance and be sure to look at the result from the listener's or reader’s side. Will he or she understand everything? If you have to make a presentation on the work done, will it look adequate and convenient for perception?

In conclusion, it should be noted that for each specific case the report should not be limited to the paragraphs listed above. Specificity of a relevant industry, production or trade sphere will surely require to adjust the content of this report to particular conditions of production and commercial activity.

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