Marketing Research: A Concise Introduction 2nd Edition
- Recognize that research is an integral component of marketing strategy
- Define marketing research
- Describe the development of marketing research as a profession
- Explain how marketing research is incorporated into the marketing plan
- Discuss the importance of conducting ethical research
Why would students want to go to a university bookstore? After all, you can now get any books you need online – and probably cheaper! The truth is that few new students are excited about the idea of buying books at all. As a result, Barnes and Noble, who have bookstores on many US campuses, were facing stiff competition from online textbook sellers with a resulting fewer students in their stores. So they decided to research what students do want and need.
Barnes and Noble College has researched every aspect of student life. Using a proprietary online panel, the bookseller sought the opinions of thousands of students – their buying habits, learning preferences, preferred media and communication forms, and overall trends in the student lifestyle. To do so Barnes and Noble created an online community webpage where students could provide input and also sent out quick polls to these students. They also reached out to professors to learn their opinion on what students needed.
Through their research Barnes and Noble found that the students want to not just shop but to have the store be part of the university experience. They found that what students want is help with navigating the university as a whole, not just help in buying books.
It was found that today’s students differ in that they are in communication with their parents much more frequently then past generations. However, the university experience has changed, and parents cannot always help. They also found that students do not trust advertisements and do not rely on them for information. Research showed that Barnes and Nobles could help these students by providing a place where they could get advice and support, not just buy textbooks.
To serve these students, Barnes and Noble provide such information as how to decorate a dorm room, build relationships on campus, and handle money. Students still want to order the books online, but many prefer to pick them up at a real store, where they can interact with knowledgeable staff and meet other students. To meet these needs, special shopping nights are held for new students. Event calendars are maintained so students know about other opportunities for socialization. The store is now a trusted partner in the university experience.
Question: How would you gather information on what university students want from a campus store?
Source: Conick, 2016
Research and Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a new field of academic study in comparison to subjects such as chemistry or philosophy. However, marketing is not a new human activity. People have always produced goods that they wished to barter or sell for either another needed product or money. To do so they need to find buyers. The field of marketing simply takes this basic human behavior and plans its strategic implementation.
While there are many definitions of marketing, the definition used by the American Marketing Association on their website (www.marketingpower.com) is as follows:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large
The definition describes marketing as an exchange that offers value for both the seller (organization) and the individual (buyer). Marketing is sometimes misunderstood as only selling, with the organization convincing the buyer to purchase something they don’t want or need. While selling is an important part of promotion, there would be no long-term gain for any organization to focus only on selling their product. Even if they could use high pressure sales techniques to convince buyers to purchase, business success relies on repeat customers. Such customers would most likely feel manipulated and be unlikely to purchase again. The definition also states that an organization should only provide products that fulfill its goals. Thus the organization has a mission and a strategic plan and marketing exists to help the organization meet both, while at the same time meeting the needs of customers.
Therefore, marketing is much more than just the promotion of a product. The field can be described as a circle with the customer in the middle surrounded by the four ‘Ps’ of promotion, price, product and place. All four of these components of marketing must provide the customer with a wanted or needed product at an acceptable price, in an appropriate place, and with effective promotion. However, to accomplish this goal the organization must first listen to the customer’s wants and needs.
Technological developments have changed the way business is done both internally and between business and the consumer. Both marketing strategy and marketing research have been affected by the development of technology that allows rapid two-way communication between people across distance. It is now much easier to hear from consumers if a product is meeting their expectations. In fact, consumers will not only let the company know; they will also let everyone else know by posting their opinions online.
Comments on social media allow market researchers to understand consumer preferences by reading reviewers, following bloggers and watching trends. Familiarity with the ever-evolving apps that people use to access and share product information is necessary.
There are so much data available that there is now data collection software that will search the social media landscape to find comments, both positive and negative, about a company’s products. As a result, the ability to analyze data is often now a required skill for market researchers.
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