Marketing research, sometimes narrowed to consumer research, is a form of business research and very intensively incorporates ICT, survey methodology and statistics. It is a form of applied sociology which concentrates on understanding the behaviors, whims and preferences, of consumers in a market-based economy. The field of marketing research as a statistical science was pioneered by Arthur Nielsen with the founding of the AC Nielsen Company in 1923. The information acquired through marketing research provides direction for:
- identifying and defining marketing opportunities and problems;
- generating, refining, and evaluating marketing actions;
- monitoring marketing performance and
- improving the understanding of marketing as a process.
Researchers often use more than one research design. They may start with secondary research to get background information, then conduct a focus group (qualitative research design) to explore the issues. Finally they might do a full nation-wide survey (quantitative research design) in order to devise specific recommendations for the client. Once the need for marketing research has been established, most marketing research projects involve these steps:
- Define the problem;
- Determine research design;
- Identify data types and sources;
- Design data collection forms;
- Determine sample plan and size;
- Collect the data;
- Analyze and interpret the data;
- Prepare the research report.