A research paper is not a kind of assignment that you can complete without any preliminary preparation. Of course, roughly the same can be said about any task, but if the word "research" is present in the context, you can guess even intuitively that you will need to explore something. This can be done only with your own mind and with your own strength, other works will not be your salvation.
Traditionally, before giving you a list of topics, we will talk about some other aspects of marketing research.
Primary information is the most valuable for setting up a system of marketing research. There are several main ways to obtain it: in particular, an experiment, an observation, a modeling, and a survey. This is not the end of the list. However, these points are the most popular.
Ways of Obtaining Information
An observation is an analytical method by which a researcher studies the behavior of consumers and sales personnel. Sometimes he or she behaves as a participant of events (active observation). An observation can be natural, which is carried out in real-world conditions, and laboratory, which is conducted in artificially created conditions.
It is open when an object of an observation knows that he or she is being observed, and hidden when an object does not know that he or she is being observed. The latter type is divided into a direct observation, when an observer simulates the invasion into environment, which is investigated, and observes an object or a phenomenon as if from the inside, and into an indirect observation, when an observer registers events "from the side" and does not take a direct part in the observed process.
An experiment is a method with the help of which it is possible to determine the response of an investigated group of people to certain factors or to their change. The purpose of an experiment is to establish cause-and-effect links between the variables under study through testing the working hypothesis.
An experiment is one of the most important ways to obtain information among potential consumers in market environment. For this purpose, a socially homogeneous group that models a particular segment of the market is selected, changes are monitored, and the degree of significance of the observed differences is determined. With proper control, this method gives the most reliable results.
One of the varieties of an experiment is simulation modeling – a special method of collecting information using a computer. A simulator model is formed and subjected to various factors of influence, not in real market conditions, but in computer environment. There are many programs that allow you to make similar models.
For exploratory research, an observation is best suited. For identifying cause-and-effect relationships, an experiment and an imitation can be recommended. For carrying out descriptive research, a survey is a better option.
A survey is the most important method of collecting, grouping, and delimiting an informative data bank. It provides elucidation of the positions of people, their views on problems on the basis of their answers to specially prepared questions. It can be carried out via interviewing (personally and by phone) or questioning (personally, by phone, via mail, or via the Internet).
A personal survey can be individual or collective. Individual surveys are conducted in written or oral form. A personal and a telephone survey is carried out via an interview.
An interview is an informal personal or private conversation to reveal the hidden, true attitude of respondents to the chosen topic (for studying the consumers’ behavior, consumers’ response to the design or advertising of products through their answers to a set of questions about the topic researched).
Group interviews use the method of focus groups, the Delphi method, the Omnibus method, and the Panel method.
The method of focus groups involves a one-time survey of several experts to discuss a particular problem. The Delphi method is a group expert evaluation, which is carried out in several stages.
Sometimes it is not enough to conduct a market study once. Then the Omnibus method is applied – it is a regular study of opinions of a large number of respondents, which is usually conducted once a month (sometimes less often). Also, the Panel method can be used, when data are collected in one group of people at regular intervals. The most commonly used variations of this method are:
- A trading panel (especially a retail panel);
- A consumer panel (of end users or consumer organizations).
A survey has its advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages include: direct contact with a consumer, flexibility of the communication system and influence on a communicator, possibility of variation, regulation of the depth and significance of individual elements of a survey, low costs.
The shortcomings include: the large amount of time and money spent on training interviewers, the amount of information transferred (mail, telephone, Internet), the lack of influence on the response (electronic-computer network), and the relatively low efficiency of measures taken.
During the preparation of a survey, it is very important to correctly determine the sample of respondents. It is quite obvious that it is not realistic to conduct a survey among the real number of consumers, and it is not necessary. The use of the selective method involves selecting a segment that represents the entire group. This allows you to save money and efforts and get operational results. Availability of sample representativeness can be achieved under such conditions:
- Correctly selected group of respondents who represent the required segment;
- Correctly selected number of respondents. It should be remembered that large samples are more reliable than smaller ones, but to obtain reliable data, it is not necessary to poll a large part of population;
- Correctly chosen way of selecting respondents. For this, different methods of random selection can be used, when each of the potential respondents should have the same probability of getting to the sample. It is possible to carry out non-random selection (serial, multistage, etc.). Selections are formed on the basis of this principle, in particular, which includes representatives of individual sections of the population according to their social status, age-old categories, professions, etc.
We will continue to discuss this topic in the following articles, and now we are moving straight to the topics we have mentioned above.
Topics for Research
You can try to find a topic by yourself, consult with a teacher, or choose one of the suggested by us:
- Types of scales for measuring the totality of characteristics of empirical system’s elements.
- The main ways of processing marketing information.
- The procedure of "manual" processing of information.
- The concept and methods of situational analysis of social and economic problems for making optimal decisions.
- The purpose and tasks of situational analysis in relation to marketing activities.
Before you make a final choice, read materials related to this topic. Perhaps, you misunderstand or misinterpret it. In this case, you may have a wrong impression of the work ahead. And when you discover your mistake, it can negatively affect your performance and your desire to write in general.
Make sure that your topic covers exactly those questions that are interesting to you, and start working.