We have already said that marketing is a relatively young scientific discipline. The term first appeared in American economic literature in 1902. Since the middle of the twentieth century, the concept of marketing has rapidly won the minds of both theoreticians and practitioners – economists and managers. The intensive development of theory and practice of management led to the accumulation of huge empirical material about business processes, consumer behavior, and competition. A number of scientists were able to systematize and summarize the available facts. Progress in theory, practical activity in the market has given rise to a new trend in management science – marketing.
In its most general form, the concept of marketing means studying the market for a specific purpose. In this science, which aims to meet the needs of people, research is important. Advantages are given to those firms and companies that know these needs better than others and that produce goods to meet them. But the market is constantly changing, the needs of people are also changing under the influence of various factors, so firms must constantly monitor conditions in order to make a profit.
It is through marketing research that firms can track customer changes. It is any research activity that provides marketing needs. This is a kind of assessment of opportunities, it gives a comprehensive analysis, allows to study the behavior of consumers. The results give grounds for making important decisions, are used in planning and evaluating the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, studying the brand image, developing investment projects and promoting new products and services.
Purposefulness in such studies, and most importantly, the degree of practical use of their results, mainly depends on the availability of a well thought strategy of a company and its special programs. This allows to outline not only clear goals but also the necessary funds for the period and methods for achieving them. Under such conditions, there arises not only a constant need to study the acutest and most pressing problems but also the sequence, depth, and scale of their study. Therefore, the need for the relevant cadres of researchers and analysts, material and financial resources are determined.
It is important to say that even the most expensive studies are incomparable with the size of losses and unproductive costs resulting from ill-conceived entry to the market with products that only partially meet its requirements or do not meet them completely, exit to the wrong markets and not at the right time.
Accumulating experience of the market activity shows that without carrying out studies, it is currently impossible to correctly solve a problem, not only on the external but also on the domestic market. Such studies allow to find the most promising target markets, optimizing the range of products sold and adapting them to the changing requirements of the market (and a consumer) in time, increasing the efficiency of production activities, improving the forms and methods of implementation, etc.
Methods are inextricably linked with the methodological foundations which, in turn, rely on general scientific, analytical, and prognostic methods, as well as on methodological approaches and techniques borrowed from many areas of knowledge.
They are conditioned by the necessity of the systematic and complex analysis of any market situation, any of its components, connected with heterogeneous factors.
The principles of system and complexity are based on the fact that when studying the external environment, primarily the market and its parameters, it is necessary to take into account not only information on the state of the internal environment of a firm but also strategic marketing goals and intentions – only such research is of a marketing nature. Otherwise, it is just a study of the market, competitors, innovation factors, etc.
Proceeding from this position, a researcher should:
- Be objective and not influence the interpretation of the fixed factors;
- Indicate the degree of error in data;
- Be a creative person, define new directions of search, use the most modern methods;
- Do research systematically to take into account the changes taking place.
Methods of selecting sets of objects of study provide the solutions of the three main problems: allocation of the general totality, determination of the sampling method, and the sample size.
The general totality should be limited since a full study is usually very expensive, and often simply impossible. In addition, the sample analysis may be even more accurate due to the reduction of systematic errors.
The sample should be a representative illustration of the general totality. This is an indispensable condition, under which, based on the sample characteristics, it is possible to draw correct conclusions about the general totality.
Conducting data collection is usually accompanied by errors – random and systematic. Random errors appear only in selective research since they do not shift the sample characteristics in one direction. The magnitude of such errors can be estimated. Systematic errors arise due to the influence of non-random factors (inaccurate allocation of the general totality, sample shortcomings, errors in the development of questionnaires, account errors, insincerity of the respondents).
Methods of obtaining data in marketing include survey, observation, automatic data recording. The choice of method depends on a purpose, a trait and a bearer of this trait (a person or a subject).
Survey is aimed at finding out the positions of people or to get help from them in a particular issue. In marketing, a survey is the most common and most important form of data collection. Face-to-face and telephone surveys are called "interviews". In written form participants receive questionnaires which they fill in and send out for their intended purpose.
Observation is a way of obtaining information that:
- Corresponds to a specific goal;
- Is systematical;
- Is the basis for generalized judgments;
- Is the subject to constant monitoring of reliability and accuracy.
Advantages of observation compared to survey:
- Independence from the desire of an object to cooperate, from the ability to verbally express the essence of the matter;
- Greater objectivity;
- Perception of unconscious behavior of an object;
- The possibility of taking into account the surrounding situation, including that observed with the help of instruments.
Possible disadvantages of observation:
- Difficulty with providing representativeness;
- Subjectivity of perception, selectivity of observation;
- The effect of observation (behavior of an object can be unnatural when observation is open).
Experiment is a study that determines the effect of one (or more) independent changing variable on the other (one or more) dependent changing variable. Essential features of experiment are:
- Isolated changes (individual values vary by a researcher, the other are constant);
- Active intervention of a researcher in the process of changing data;
- Verification of cause-effect relations (for example, the impact of a trademark on the sale of a product).
Experiments are divided into laboratory (conducted in an artificial environment) and field (conducted in real conditions). During an experiment, there are usually at least two problems:
- how much the change in a dependent variable can be attributed to the change of an independent one;
- whether current experimental results are suitable for other environmental conditions (representativeness of the experiment).
The dynamics of the market trends, its conjuncture, constantly changes and develops. This fully applies to certain parameters and elements of the market. Therefore, a single study is clearly not enough. The necessary information can be obtained by repeatedly polling the interested group of buyers at specified intervals or monitoring sales in a certain group of stores.
We will continue to study this topic in the following articles.