Areas and Techniques Market Research

21/03/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

The research undertaken in marketing field may be quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative marketing research attempts to observe statistically the behaviour of various marketing components.

It is an attempt to figure out the consumer profile relevant to the marketing problem under study. It tries to find the answers as to what? How? How much? Where? And When? A consumer buys a product or a service.

It is probing the conscious mind of consumers. On the other hand, qualitative marketing research tries to find out answers as to why a consumer behaves this way or that way? It answers why? of a situation by probing the sub-conscious and unconscious mind. It finds out the causes and the motives for specific consumer behaviour. It is more popularly known as ‘motivation research’ a major form of consumer research.

Quantitative research relies more on direct questioning, quantitative data collection and, therefore, mathematical analysis. Contrary to this, qualitative research believes in psychological methods and techniques of measuring the consumer behaviour.

The most common methods and techniques used in marketing research are:

  1. Survey.
  2. Observation
  3. Experimentation.
  4. In-depth interviews and
  5. Projective techniques.

The first three are methods while the last two are the techniques.


1. Survey Method:

Survey methods refer to all methods of obtaining the needed information through asking the questions to the respondents. This method is, therefore, known as the ‘questionnaire’ method.

Professors Tull D.S. and Hawkins D.I. define survey method as “the systematic gathering of information from the respondents for the purpose of understanding and/or predicting some aspects of behaviour of the population of interest”.

Surveys are commonly conducted both in quantitative and qualitative researches. After having decided about the sampling, questionnaire is designed and the respondents are contacted to answer these questions asked in the questionnaire. This process of getting answers is called as interviewing.

In questionnaire research, such interviewing is more direct in that the respondent knows the purpose of the study and answers to the questions. On the other hand, in qualitative research, interviewing is more indirect as the respondent does not know the purpose of study yet answers the questions.

Two significant factors affect the effectiveness of a survey method:

  1. Wording of questionnaire must be such that desired information can be obtained accurately and unbiasedly.
  2. Ability and willingness of the respondent to give accurate and unbiased information. There are three major methods of conducting a survey the ways to reach the respondents for getting the desired research information.

These are:

  1. Personal Interview
  2. Mail Interview and
  3. Telephone Interview.

Personal Interview:

Personal interview is the process of communication where face to face contact between the investigator and the respondent is established. It is the conversation arranged for the purpose of obtaining views of the respondent on the topic of interest to the interviewer.

Under this method, the investigator presents the questionnaire in person either at the residence or at the office of the respondent. Being active participant, he establishes a close rapport with the respondent and motivates him or her to answer all the questions satisfactorily.


  1. It is a superior method:

Personal interview method is superior to mail and telephone interview methods because, it has two special features of its own.

These are:

(i) Answer is not only on asking,

(ii) Personal observation.

That is why, this method is widely used.

  1. Maximum information is sought:

Maximum and accurate information can be elicited by the investigator because, he can explain each question in person and this enables the respondent to answer the questions only after understanding. So no question is left unanswered.

  1. Regulation of interview:

In personal interview, the investigator being an active participant can control the interview to his advantage and to the convenience of the respondent by directing, guiding and supervising the respondent. It is he who matches to the needs and moods of the respondents.


  1. It is expensive:

This method works out costly because of varieties of expenses incurred on sampling, questionnaire, interviewing, recruiting training and controlling investigators, paying for their services. Above all the time lost is too much. That is 35 per cent to 45 per cent extra time is to be provided for arriving at the total time spent.

  1. More administrative problems:

Personal interview method involves more administrative problems because of wider organizational paraphernalia, selection, training and control of personnel both research and non-research. The greatest problem is that of chasing of widely scattered investigating staff.

  1. Biased information:

The investigators may not get accurate and unbiased information though it is possible to get maximum information.

It is likely to be biased as the investigator plays more active role in explaining the questions; he may get answers only to the key questions and the rest he may manage as per his sweet will caprice.

  1. Mail Interview Method:

As the title suggests, the respondents are contacted through post. There is no face to face contact between the investigator and the respondent. The questionnaire is sent to the mailing address of the respondent with a request to fill in and return back.

Much care is to be taken while designing the questionnaire as there is no face to face contact. The questions asked must be answerable quick in terms ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The covering letter must be carefully couched to induce, convince and motivate the respondent to answer all the questions and return the questionnaire duly filled back to the investigator.

The cost of return postage is to be borne by the investigator. Some business houses enclose a gift or a cash payment for having taken the trouble of providing the relevant information. It is more a goodwill gesture.


  1. Detailed and accurate information:

The researcher can contact maximum number of persons by sitting at his office. It is powerful in terms of distance and time covered and saved. The information given is likely to be unbiased, detailed and accurate as answers are given at the convenience of the respondent.

  1. It is economical:

Though there are unavoidable costs, the -heavy expenses on travelling and personnel are totally eliminated unlike personal interview. This brings about what is known as ‘user surplus’. Due to wide coverage, the costs are the least.

  1. More objectivity:

This is more objective method of data collection in the sense that the questionnaires are sent to be standardized and self- administered that makes possible uniformity of interviews making the data collected more comparable. It is free from bias because, the interviewer is absent.


  1. Possibility of poor response:

The greatest draw-back of this method is poor response to the questions asked and the persons responding. There is no guarantee that all the respondents will answer all the questions. Further, it is not compulsory to answer the questionnaire.

  1. It is time consuming:

The researcher will not be able to keep the time schedule for completing his research programme. Though he puts the dead­line for answering the questions, his bitter experience is that questionnaires reach him only after the due date. It undermines the value of time-dimension of research work.

  1. Incomplete and inaccurate data:

As there is no investigator present, there is no personal enforcement to answer such and very question. It may so happen that friends and relatives may answer the questionnaire on behalf of the respondent.

He will not get accurate information on matters like age, income, education, marital status and the like. This wrong information leads to wrong conclusions.

  1. Telephone Interview:

Under telephone interview method, the researcher establishes a contact through telephone. The investigator will have to be selective and careful while designing the questionnaire for it cannot be a lengthy type as in case of earlier two methods.

It must be brief, simple, to the point and non­-confidential. The special problem of telephone interview is that of building close rapport with the respondents so that he can be induced and persuaded to reply satisfactorily.


  1. It is economical:

It is the speediest method of data collection where up-to-date information is got at telephone call without waste of time just sitting in the office. Other expenses on questionnaire, sampling, investigation and office are nil. The only expenditure is on calls made. The cost per call decreases with the unlimited calls made.

  1. Unbiased Data:

Normally respondents are more frank on telephone than in person. They are not influenced by family members and friends as telephone conversation is considered to be private affair. The facts heard by the investigation can be recorded and verified, if need there be.

  1. Best method to elicit information from specific group:

When the respondents are belonging to higher socio- economic classes, it is really very difficult to get personal appointments. It is normally the case with professionals like doctors, lawyers, consultants, businessmen, architects, executives, professors and the like.

In such cases, telephone call can command more respect than a door-bell. These busy persons give interviews provided the time taken is of short duration. Moreover, these people are more cooperative for they know what research is.


  1. It is of limited use:

Telephone interview is limited to the extent of its contacts with the respondents. Though, telephone interview is gaining ground in western countries because of wide coverage, it is quite discouraging in country like ours where coverage is as low as 15 per cent of total population as against 85 per cent in advanced nations. Further, all phones are not working efficiently all the time.

  1. Possibility of no reply:

Thinking that the respondent has the telephone facility, still there is no guarantee that the interviewer gets the reply. It is easier and convenient to say ‘no’ on phone than in person. Many a times the respondent may simply hang up and deny any useful information.

Further, it is difficult to include and persuade the respondent who has not been seen by the investigator.

  1. Lack of personal observation:

Unlike, personal interview telephone interview does not lend itself to have close observation of the respondent. No behavioural gestures such as grins, winks, frowns, raised eye-brows and the like are possible. Again, visual aids are of no avail. Unless vision phone facility is made available, this continues to the limitation.

2. Observation Method:

Observation implies viewing or noting the act or occurrence. Observation is the method that places an observer human or machine to watch and record as to what is taking place.

Here, the observer does not ask the questions to the respondent but observes his or her actions or behaviour with or without telling the respondent that he or she is being observed. Many a times the investigator will not get answers for his questions under other methods; but he gets here without asking the questions.

Thus, observation method works well in lieu of communication. Such an observation is to be scientific and casual. For instance, if you are to get answer for question say “What brand of shampoo does a lady use?” Instead of asking the question, the observer can note her behaviour at the sales counter and determine her choice. Further, it may be a question of determining the efficiency and the devotion of a salesman in a store. An observer can measure the same in disguise of a customer.

Observation is mostly done by human-beings as it is more comprehensive though less accurate, less convenient and uneconomical. Of late, mechanical or electronic devices are used on the grounds of accuracy, economy and convenience, though of limited applicability.

These mechanical devices are traffic counting machines, hidden cameras, audio-meters, eye-cameras, pupitometers, tachistoscopes, psycho-galvanometers and so on. Observation method is commonly and more fruitfully used both in quantitative and qualitative research.

This method is more objective and accurate than survey method as it eliminates human element uncontrolled.

The limitations of observation method are:

  1. The information that is sought by the observer may not be sufficient as he can observe only the overt behaviour.
  2. It is much costlier than the survey method itself. Further, the experts have not been able to develop alternative method of observation nor they have been fully utilized. The techniques developed so far need further refinement for their perfect and fuller use.
  3. Experimental Method:

Experimental method of research is the procedure of carrying out the best possible solution to a given problem on a small scale. The aim is to determine whether the tentative conclusions reached can be proved in actual conditions.

The actual conditions are ever changing and cannot be controlled by the researcher.

However, continuous experimentation in differing conditions, it may be possible to isolate the effect of these differing conditions. Professor Tull D.S. and Hawkin D.I. have defined this method as “the deliberate manipulation of one or more variables by the experimenter in such a way that its effect upon one or other variables can be measured.”

In marketing area, an experimenter may be interested in measuring the effect of change in the brand name, price, product design, color, package, copy of the advertisement and the like on the sale of a product. Such an exercise is known as test-marketing.

Test-marketing establishes the cause and effect relations and its findings may be the basis for bringing about change in the product-mix. Let us take the case of colour. If the experimenter wants to know the best colour of the two proposed toilet soaps, he has to say, pink and yellow with same coloured packages.

He would select five very popular stores located in the different parts of the state, giving equal display of the two packages. He would record the actual sales in all the five stores for each colour and will take that colour for granted that has shown the highest sales in all the stores. Let us take that pink colour has the upper hand then, it is clue for him to go in for larger quantities of pink than yellow.

The strength of experimentation lies in the fact that it helps not only in building a theory but also solving marketing problems as it resembles practical setting. In fact, decision makers rely on it to a very great extent as it helps them in detecting the real causes of impediments or troubles for taking marketing actions to plug the gaps.

However, its limitations are:

(a) It is costlier method both for researchers and non- researchers.

(b) The findings may not remain for a very long time because, the researcher will not be able to control the dynamics of changing consumer needs.

In our case, observed people may not like pink colour. By the time the firm goes in for larger production of pink cakes, they may prefer yellow or white or even light green.


  1. Depth interviews:

Depth interview is a technique of getting the replies from the respondents in an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation. It is a form of unstructured research or interview. It is non-directive interview where the respondent is being urged to talk than mere saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for a specific question.

The respondents are kept in dark that they are being interviewed and, therefore, they express or expose themselves without any kind of fear or disapproval, dispute or admonition.

It is beneath line or beneath the consumer surface interviewing to ask leading questions to stimulate free and frank discussion of the subject on hand without asking a standardized list of questions. It is called as depth interview because, the researcher proves through probing the unconscious mind, feelings, needs, conflicts, fears, motives, attitudes, habits and taboos.

The standard size of the group varies between 5 to 45 persons. The interview may be or may not be tape-recorded. It normally lasts for one to three hours. Since depth interview is unstructured and undirected, the degree of success totally depends on the competence of or the caliber of the interviewer. It is his ability to make the respondent to expose to his queries that count the most.

The brighter side of depth interview is that it helps in uncovering the human pre-dispositions having far reaching impact on his research problem.

The variety and the volume of the information sought are really substantial. This information reduces the level of uncertainty in decision making.

However, the limitations are:

(a) Neither it is possible to get really competent interviewers at least did not cost nor the information collected by them is unbiased.

(b) It is a time consuming affair so much so that it is really difficult to hold on respondent hours together.

(c) Many a times, the respondent may not expose to the extent the researcher desires. You may uncover every-thing of his ‘inner-self except the taboos.

  1. Projective techniques:

Projective tests are the tests conducted wherein the respondents are encouraged to project their feelings, attitudes, impressions, motives, reactions and the like to a third person or an object. It is that technique which involves stimulating the interviewee to project himself or herself in an artificial or ambiguous situation. Here, the inner feelings are made to reveal.

If you ask a respondent as to why he has not yet bought a colour television set, he may say that he is waiting for a particular latest model. However, the real reason may be his financial difficulty. This hidden feeling or cause is unearthed by the projective techniques.

The most commonly administered tests of this kind are:

  1. Word Association Test
  2. Sentence Completion Test
  3. Thematic Appreciation Test and
  4. Paired Picture Test.

Sometimes, Third Person Test is also conducted. Then the other varieties are ‘role playing’ ‘psycho-drama’ ‘graphology’ and the like.

These tests are discussed in coming pages under the title of Motivation Research. All these are drawn from clinical psychology and psychiatry. The strength of these tests lies in the fact they are of great assistance to the researcher in discovering the latent and factual consumer behaviour.

However, the crucial and delicate tasks involved in testing are conducting the tests to collect the data on one hand, and analysis and interpretation of the data on the other.

These warrant high degree of caliber, proven skill and candid diligence on the part of researcher. Really it is very difficult to get the services of such personnel at the minimum costs.