Marketing Research. A Guidebook for Tertiary Students

Textbook, 2020

79 Pages




About the Author

Limitations of Marketing Research

Phase 1. Identify and define the opportunity or threat
Phase 2. Determine the objectives of the research
Phase 3. Design the research and the methods to be used
Phase 4: Collect the data
Phase 5: Analyze the data
Phase 6: Report on the finding


Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Information sources for statistics

Descriptive Research

Key element involved in devising a sampling plan

Postal surveys
Telephone Surveys

Impact of survey method on questionnaire design
Computer-assisted questionnaires

Industrial focus groups
Other Qualitative Research Methods
Case study 1. Shopping Centre Project
Case Study 2: XY Motors
Case Study 3: The EB Company



There has been much confusion about what marketing research and market research. Marketing research has often been called market research. Many authors have been worried about the terminology, and they have even called their books different names like ‘research for marketing decision’ in other to overcome the problem. In this book the subject matter is referred to as marketing research. The author is clear in his mind what he is referring to. To optimize the product and position it successfully within the market, many companies like Adonko group of companies, Scancom Ghana Limited, Olam Ghana Limited and Procter & Gamble had to plan a marketing research process. This process included asking marketing research question(s), collecting data, and analyzing the data using quantitative methods. This book provides an introduction to the abilities necessary for conducting or commissioning such marketing research projects. It’s written for two (2) target groups or audiences:

– Undergraduate, HND in addition as postgraduate students in business and marketing research, and
– Practitioners wishing to understand more about marketing research, or people who need a practical, yet theoretically sound, reference.

The various chapters address different topics in marketing research.

- Chapter 1 looks at description of marketing research and the role information play in decision making. It also discusses types of data and assortment of marketing research
- Chapter 2 considers phases of marketing research, nature and structure of marketing research industry internal research department.
- Chapter 3 looks at research briefs and proposal. The structure and content of both research briefs and proposals are considered.
- Chapter 4 origins of research information pays attention to origins of research information, how to systematically collect this data
- Chapter 5 research design examines design types and sub-types, Exploratory and descriptive research design and ethical considerations in research.
- Chapter 6 sampling discusses how sampling is devised and key elements involved. Probability and non- probability sampling, sampling errors and how to avoid them.
- Chapter 7 surveys looks data through the various survey approaches: postal, personal interviews, telephone survey, self-administered questionnaires, descriptive surveys, omnibus studies and panels, different survey methods
- Chapter 8 questionnaires focuses on construction of questionnaires and principles involved in designing, testing and debugging questionnaires, the principles involved.
- Chapter 9 qualitative research discusses the nature and uses of focus group possible misuse of focus groups, techniques used in moderating group discussion. The differences between those used for industrial research.

Dr. John Peterson

About the Author

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Dr Alfred Owusu is a Marketing Practitioner. He is a Senior Lecturer and the Dean of the Business School of Kumasi Technical University (KsTU). He was Head of Department of Marketing and Vice Dean of the Business School of KsTU for two terms. He is a Chartered Marketer trained at both At Emile Wolf College and London school of Marketing all in UK where he graduated with Certificate, Advanced and Post Graduate Certificates in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing CIM, UK. He holds a PhD in Marketing, Masters of Business Administration International Business option (with thesis) and Bachelor of Business Administration with Marketing Option from UNEM and the University of East London respectively. He started his teaching career in 2005 as Part-Time Lecturer, lecturing CIM courses at London School of Marketing UK. He currently teaches Marketing at the Department of Marketing KsTU on full time basis.

Dr Owusu has thought more than fifteen (15) courses in Marketing and supervised more than hundred (100) project work and thesis at both HND, degree and Masters Levels at KsTU, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Communication design department, University of Education Winneba, Kumasi campus Management Studies department and Valley View University, Kumasi campus all on a part-time basis at both undergraduate and Master’s levels.

At the Technical University level, he has served and chaired on several committees and boards. It includes the following: Disciplinary Board of the University, Decentralization Committee, Appointment and Promotion Board, Academic Board, Faculty Board, Relocation Committee, Fund Raising Committee just to mention a few.

Dr Owusu is the co-founder of Team consult. A marketing consulting firm for small and medium-sized enterprises. He is the CEO of Alfiman Enterprise and Poultry in Kumasi. His capabilities are in consulting in Marketing for small and medium-sized enterprises. He has been consulting for selected small and medium-size enterprises, providing training support for microfinance institutions and Conducting needs assessment, teaching them how to prepare market plans and monitoring and reviewing of the plans.

Dr Owusu’s research focuses on marketing, communication, technology management as well as human resource management. He has over twenty published papers in recognised journals to his credit. He has attended and presented papers at several conferences both local and international. He holds membership with CIM, UK. He is married to Lucy Nkrumah and has three children, Kwadwo, Nana and Obrempong.




After reading this chapter you should be able to:

- Define marketing research, understand the philosophy of science and understand how marketing research relates to marketing decision and planning;
- Appreciate the major divisions of marketing research and how it is part of marketing strategy;
- Understand the role played by marketing agencies and the kind of services they provide;
- Be aware of ethical issues involved in marketing research;
- Be aware of how Internet can be used in marketing research;
- Appreciate the need for creativity in marketing research;
- Appreciate the problems created by non-response in marketing research.

Although the term market research is now largely used as a synonym for marketing research there was originally a distinct difference between the scopes of the activities they covered. Some of the confusion has been caused by the term ‘market research’ being rather freely used to describe full range of activities properly covered by marketing research. It is worthy to note that, Market or Marketing research is essentially about the disciplined collection and evaluation of specific data in order to help suppliers understand their customer needs better. Moreover, since decision-making necessarily involves some element of risk, the collection and evaluation of such data should be used to reduce and control, to some degree, the parameters of risk surrounding particular marketing proposals.

Marketing research as defined by the American Marketing Association

Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information – information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing specifies the information required to address these issues; designs the method for collecting information; manages and implements the data-collection process; analyzes the results; and communicates the findings and their implications.

Any definition of marketing research has to take account of the changing role of research in modern marketing. Marketing research connects the consumer, the customer and the public to the marketer through the medium of information. This information is used to distinguish and define marketing opportunities and threats or problems. It is helps in the following areas:

- It is used to create, improve and assess marketing actions and to monitor marketing performance.
- It also helps to improve understanding of marketing as a process.
- It comprises methods for collecting data, analysis of the data collected and its interpretation, and communication of the findings and their implications.
- It takes account of past experience, the present situation and the likely future so that marketing executives can make sound decisions.

This definition of marketing research underlines the role research in all phases of marketing, assisting and guiding the marketing efforts of the organization. Marketing research involves more than studies of specific problems or specific situations, for it prevents problems arising in the first place. There is a need for marketing research to be at the center of decision making. It is a fact-finding and forecasting function that is used by all phases of marketing and even by other functional aspects of an organisation.


There are elements of uncertainty and risk attached to all business decisions and the main difficulty is how to reduce the risk involve in the choices that are made. Common sense suggests that the availability of good information reduces the risk. After all having perfect information all the time would make the job of exercising choice much easier since there would be no risk in making marketing decisions. Correct answers to such questions as how much to spend on advertising and what message should be contained in the advertising would always be known.

The first step in the decision-making process is the

1. Recognition of a needed information. Specification of requirements which is incorrect will provide only purposeless information, so it is important to ensure that the specification is correct. Bad or deceptive information not only cost time and money but also generates uncertainty, disorder and badly informed decisions. Next, a reasonable time and a reasonable cost, and whether one can afford to spend both the time and the money to obtain it and to make a decision must be considered at a reasonable cost. Information used in the right way can be a powerful aid to marketing. Marketing companies turns to gain competitive advantage over their rivals with the help of accurate relevant information since it helps marketers make better decisions. Incorrect, immaterial information is both deceptive and vicious in the extreme.


Marketing research has been broadly apportioned covering the range of problems and decision with which executives have to deal.

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Numerical facts about particular markets and market segments- for example the size of the market of Ghanaian mobile phone both in terms of unit’s sales and value can be produced by customer or market research. Marketing companies are allowed to identify trends and are able to predict future sales when data is allowed to be collected over a time period. Information on where customers are located, their spending patterns, earnings and their credit worthiness can also be provided. Why customers prefer one brand to another (iPhone vs. Samsung) and what price they are willing to pay can also be explained. Information about market share of all the firms operating in a market or market segment can also be provided by market research.

Customer market research provides information on:

1. Segment sizes of the market
2. Market trends which can aid in forecasting
3. Brand shares
4. Customer attributes and inspirations
5. Competitors brands shares

Advertising and promotion research

The success of advertising campaign in any company and their relationship to their objectives are measured by advertising research. It helps users of advertising in selecting the most appropriate promotional media and methods that are likely to produce the most effective results. Information about a medium which is most likely to reach the target audience for specific campaigns can be provided by advertising research. Again, it also provides information about what messages are most expected to appeal to the target audience. Advertising research also helps in the process of assessing in advance the expected impact of a campaign by trying out advertisements on a limited scale. The effectiveness of a campaign can be observed at all stages of its implementation through tracking studies.

Promotional research provides information on:

- The most acceptable method of promotion
- The most acceptable copy and campaign material
- The most acceptable media to use
- The successfulness of the communication in achieving objectives

Product research

To find additional uses for existing and potential products or services in a company, Product research can help. It also helps in the case of new product ideas to test out the product concept with potential users and purchasers before the expensive process of product development commences. If a company for example finds a product concept to be sound, the company then develops it, product research can then be used by the company to test the product out on some selected customers for use first before the launch. The information gathered from the selected customers can be used to remove any supposed design faults in a product. An effective assessment of the strength and weakness of a product or service in comparison with competitor’s products or services by one company can be provided by product research. Finally, if companies requires information on the appropriate packaging or design of a product and to assist the company in ways as to promoting the image of the product (or service), the company can rely on product research because it can provide exactly that.

Product research provides information on:

- Opportunities for new product development
- Product design requirements
- Comparative performance vis-à-vis competitors offering
- Packaging or design

Distribution research

Marketing companies can find the best channels of distribution for their products and also helps in the research selection of distribution channel members with the aid of Distribution research. With regards to physical distribution, research indicates the best sites for warehouse and retail locations.

Distribution research provides information on:

- Acceptable distribution methods
- The suitability of channel members
- The prime location for warehouse and retail outlets

Sales research

Marketing companies need sales research to help them to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of different methods of techniques of selling. Sales research helps to ensure that sales patches are roughly equivalent in size so that sales staff are not unfairly discriminated against when it comes to setting sales targets. Sales research can provide marketing companies information on the suitability of remuneration methods for motivating the sales force. Sales research is also assist marketing companies with sales training and can provide extensive feedback on the quality of sales presentation made by sales staff.

Sales research provides information on:

- The efficacy of sales methods and techniques
- Setting up sales territories
- The acceptability of remuneration methods
- Sales training requirements

Marketing environment

This apportionment of marketing research examines the political, economic, social and technological influences which may have an impact on a firm marketing operation. In the case of the political aspect of the environment, changes in government as well as system of governance practiced in a particular country can affect trading conditions and these need to be anticipated on a worldwide basis. Clearly the economic climate within which a business operates exerts an effect.

These affects may be temporary or more permanent. Attention has to be given to such influences like inflation, unemployment, exchange rate fluctuation, the stage of the economy in the business cycle etc. when planning. Marketing environment research helps to assess the impact of political and economic factors. Social influences can also have a substantial impact on some businesses. For example, population explosion or declines directly influence the demand for certain goods.

Research provides information on which factors are relevant and how they affect the organization activities. Technological influences can have a sudden and dramatic impact on the fortunes of a business, for example the use of fibre optic cables and digital technology has change the face of telecommunication and broadcast industry in Ghana. A sudden technological breakthrough can make currently successful products and processes obsolete in a very short space of time, for example analogue television has given way to satellite in Ghana. Market environment research can monitor technological progresses obsolete in a very short space of time. Research can monitor technological process and provide advance notice of new developments.

Market environment research provides information on:

- Political influences
- Economic influences
- Social influences
- Technological influences

Categories of applied marketing research

Here we consider three (3) main categories of marketing research. They include the following:

Preliminary research

Before a final statement and definition of a problem can be agreed upon, Preliminary research is often necessary for marketing companies. For example, someone within ABC Company in Ghana may come up with the idea for a new product (or service). Preliminary research may concern such matters as whether the market for such a service is regional (Ashanti, Volta, Eastern region etc.) or national (the whole Ghana), who would use the product/service (Children, youth or adult) and what substitute services people use. Answers to these kinds of questions can help the marketing company define the nature and scope of more complete research.

A review of earlier research may be helpful to Marketing companies. It is possible for example that the suggestion put forward as an idea for a new service has been previously researched. There may even be already published sources of information that can provide pertinent information. Government publication might mention the service, for example, or some trade publication may have mentioned it and even considered its use.

Conclusive research

Presumptions or postulations are developed in the preliminary research and in the course of defining the marketing problem. Conclusive research is carried out to produce evidence to support these postulations. In conducting conclusive research, a thorough search of already published data is made. Fieldwork may also be conducted when required.

Performance research

Performance research is concerned with assessing how well recommended marketing actions are being carried out and what benefits in terms of objectives set are being realized. Marketing companies use performance research to monitor the effectiveness of marketing management. It questions the definition of the problem that has directed the work to date. It makes one review whether a new study is desirable because certain questions remain unsatisfactorily resolved.

Marketing research provides information for marketing decisions-making and problem-solving and may thus be regarded as part of the marketing information system.

Limitations of Marketing Research

Following are the main limitations of Marketing Research:

- Marketing Research (MR) is not an exact science though it uses the techniques of science. Thus, the results and conclusions drawn upon by using MR are not very accurate.
- The results of MR are very vague as MR is carried out on consumers, suppliers, intermediaries, etc. who are humans. Humans have a tendency to behave artificially when they know that they are being observed. Thus, the consumers and respondents upon whom the research is carried behave artificially when they are aware that their attitudes, beliefs, views, etc. are being observed.
- MR is not a complete solution to any marketing issue as there are many dominant variables between research conclusions and market response.
- MR is not free from bias. The research conclusions cannot be verified. The reproduction of the same project on the same class of respondents give different research results.
- Inappropriate training to researchers can lead to misapprehension of questions to be asked for data collection.
- Many business executives and researchers have ambiguity about the research problem and its objectives. They have limited experience of the notion of the decision-making process. This leads to carelessness in research and researchers are not able to do anything real.
- There is less interaction between the MR department and the main research executives. The research department is in segregation. This all makes research ineffective.
- MR faces time constraint. The firms are required to maintain a balance between the requirement for having a broader perspective of customer needs and the need for quick decision making so as to have competitive advantage.
- Huge cost is involved in MR as collection and processing of data can be costly. Many firms do not have the proficiency to carry wide surveys for collecting primary data, and might not also able to hire specialized market experts and research agencies to collect primary data. Thus, in that case, they go for obtaining secondary data that is cheaper to obtain.
- MR is conducted in open marketplace where numerous variables act on research settings.




After reading this chapter you should be able to:

- Appreciate the phases of the marketing research process;
- Understand the nature and structure of the market research industry
- Appreciate the role played by full service agencies and professional bodies
- Be aware of what to consider when selection external agency.

There will many slight variations if you read other books on marketing research on the suggested ‘stages’ of the market research process, this will depend partly on whether the book is written from the point of view of a client or a market research agency. There is fairly general agreement, however, that the process will entail the following phases, in this order (the process spell DODCAR, if you like mnemonics!).

- Phase 1. Definition: identify the opportunity or threat
- Phase 2. Objectives: determine precisely what you need to deal with the opportunity or threat
- Phase 3. Design the research and the methods to be used
- Phase 4. Collect the data
- Phase 5. Analyse the data
- Phase 6. Report on the findings

Where an organization is using an agency to do the research it will send out a research brief at the end of phase 2 and the various agencies that are asked to tender for the work will then submit research proposals (in outline, at least) covering phase 3, explaining how they would do the work and why they should be chosen. For example, if Adonko group of companies in Ghana decides to use a research agency, the company will send research brief to companies like Marketing Support Consultancy, Pan African Field Services Ltd, Consumer Insights Consult Ltd Ghana etc. to submit a detailed research proposal in response to the brief for selection. Adonko Company will select its preferred supplier(s) based on the contents and quality of their proposals (and on other factors such as cost, of course) and then phase 3 will be done in detail.

Research proposals are discussed at more length in this chapter.

Phase 1. Identify and define the opportunity or threat

- This is phrased so that it reminds you of SWOT analysis since the identification of a need for market research will usually arise from strategic and marketing planning process and reviews.

a). An opportunity is something that occurs in the organization’s environment that could be advantageous- a change in the law, for example a ban on illegal mining which later pass into law presented an opportunity for mining companies or a new technology, for example the introduction of fibre optic cable in the telecommunication sector has been exploited by many telecom companies in Ghana.

- b). A threat is an environmental development that could create problems and stop the organisation achieving its objectives- a new competitor, from example MTN is the market leader in the telecommunication market in Ghana with about six (6) players, if tomorrow its announced that AT &T or Orange a global telecom giant is entering Ghana, it will be a threat to a the companies. Perhaps, or an adverse change in buying behaviour, for example if Ghanaian customers develop bad taste for Adonko Company local liquors as against foreign liquors.
- In either case the organisation will want to know more. How can it best take advantage? Or what action is most likely to stave or reverse the problem? The answers will depend on how the market reacts to different possible solutions, and the organisation can be much surer about this if it conducts research.
- Once the issue has been identified it should be identified in terms of what the organisation needs to know to choose amongst possible solutions. Some of the information may be readily available, or easy to find but if there are any ‘unknown’ (and especially if the organisation cannot think of any solutions!) that may indicate the need for research.
- Readers should bear in mind that marketing research, however well organised, is not a substitute for decision making. It can help to reduce the risks in business decisions making, but it will not make the decision. Professional marketing depends partially on sound judgement and reliable information, but it also needs flair and creatively, the ability to see the wood from the trees.

Phase 2. Determine the objectives of the research

The objectives should set out the precise information needed, as clearly as possible : it is very wasteful of time and money to collect answers to questions that did not need to be asked or which are the wrong questions. The objectives should relate only to the problem or opportunity, not to other things that it might just be ‘a nice’ to know.

Phase 3. Design the research and the methods to be used

- The category of research must first be decided upon: the methods used will depends on whether the research may be exploratory, descriptive or causal.

Exploratory research

As the name suggests, exploratory research tends to break new ground. For instance if your organisation has a completely new idea for a product or service which consumers have never been offered before then exploratory research will be most appropriate in the first instance.

a). Potential consumers may be totally uninterested, in which case exploratory research will quickly how that it is best to abandon the idea before any more money is spent on developing it.
b). Consumers may not understand how the offer could benefit them, in which case exploratory research would show that it may be worth simplifying the product and introducing it to them in a different way, with different promotional techniques and messages.
c). On the other hand consumers may not have responded because the research methods used were not appropriate, or because the wrong consumer group was chosen: exploratory research can help to define how more detailed research should be carried out.

- Exploratory research may therefore be a preliminary to more detailed development of marketing ideas and/ or a more detailed research project or it may be final nail in the coffin for a product idea that is not going to bear fruit.
- Research methods should involve little cost and take little time. If use can be made of existing research by others then that is certainly desirable, as are methods that are not too labour and cost intensive such as telephone research or limited Internet surveys.

Descriptive research

- Descriptive research aims to describe what is happening now (a single snapshot) or what has happened over a limited period of time (several snapshots).
- In other words descriptive research is useful for answering ‘where are we now?’ questions, and it can also be used to summarise how things have changed over a period in time. Published market research reports are examples of descriptive: if you subscribe toady you will out ‘where you were’ when the report was last published, and if you wait a while for the next edition you will find out how you have progressed.

Causal research

- Although descriptive research is very common and if much used it may not really tell us the cause of the event or behaviour it describes .To paraphrase Wilson ‘virtually all marketing research projects fall somewhere along a continuum between purely descriptive and purely causal ’.

Phase 4: Collect the data

Data can be collected from either primary or secondary data sources.

- a). Secondary data is data collected for another purpose not specifically related to the proposed research, for instance all the internal information in the Adonko company’s marketing information systems and databases, or information such as published research reports, government of Ghana information, newspapers( Daily graphic, times etc in Ghana) and trade journals and so on.
- b). Primary data is information collected specifically for the study under consideration. Primary data may be quantitative (statistics), qualitative (attitudes etc.) or observational videos of people browsing in a store, for instance).

Phase 5: Analyze the data

- This stage will involve getting the data into analysable form by entering it into a computer and using statistics ( for quantitative data) and other means of analysis and summary( qualitative data) to find out what it reveals.

Phase 6: Report on the finding

- The final report is likely to take the form of a power point type presentation given to an audience of interested parties and a detailed written report explaining and summarising the findings.

The nature and structure of the market research industry

Internal marketing research departments

- Most organisations will have somebody who is responsible for marketing research, even if that simply means liaising with external agencies that actually carry out the work. For example, Angel Group of company in Ghana does not have a dedicated research department hence they use their marketing officer who liaise with external agencies.

Larger organisations that have a regular need for marketing research information (particularly FMCG organisations) are likely to set up their own marketing research department.

Specialist agencies

As the name implies a specialists agency specialises in a particular type of work

a). Some agencies in particular markets or market sectors or regions
b). Others specialise in a particular research services such as questionnaire design, or collection and analysis of qualitative information.
c). Field agencies have specialised skills in conducting personal or telephone interviews and administering postal or e-mail surveys.
d). Data analysis agencies can be employed to code up, read in or input data collected (in questionnaires, say, or perhaps recorded in personal interviews) and analyse it using state-of-the art hardware ( for instance highly accurate scanners) and software ( for instance highly specialised statistical packages).
e). There are numerous independent consultants who will undertake a variety of tasks, usually on a smaller scale. Such people are typically ex-employees of larger research organisations or have gained their expertise in related disciplines such as IT or librarianship.

Full service agencies

- As the name implies a full service agency offers all of the above services and also will be able to conduct a research project from start to finish. Well-known international examples are BMRB, Taylor and Nelson Sofres and Ipsos.
- In addition many full service advertising agencies offer marketing research services as do firms of management consultants like Mckinsey.

Professional bodies

- Apart from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM UK), many of whose members are involved in marketing research in some capacity, most countries have an association of some sort of market researchers. The largest is the Market Research Society based in the UK, but with international affiliations.

Selecting a market research supplier

Very few organisations in Ghana and for that matter in the world can shoulder the cost of a large full-time staff of marketing research workers, especially a ‘field force ‘of researchers spread around the country, or around every country in which the organisation does business.

Choosing and using consultants

Choosing the right agency or consultant to work with is a key element in a successful working relationship. The external expert must possess the following qualities:

1. The external expert must become a trusted part of the team.
2. It is equally important that the market researcher has the specialist knowledge and research service capabilities needed by the organisation.
3. Must be associated to a professional body, the marketing research body.
4. It helps if the agency has some knowledge of the market or business in which the company operates.
5. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to develop a long-standing relationship with the research organisation, because their understanding of the company’s business and the marketplace will develop over time.

Chapter 3



After reading this chapter you should be able to:

- Appreciate the various stages in both research brief and proposal
- Understand how to write research brief and proposal.



A research brief is prepared by the Organization commissioning the research. For example if Adonko bitters is commissioning a research, they would have to prepare a brief.

The structure of a research brief will cover the following:

(a) Background. This covers relevant information about the company, its products and services, its market place and so on. For example Adonko bitters was established in the 70s, its produces alcoholic beverages and its market is in Ghana and other African countries like Nigeria.
(b) Rationale. How the need for information arose and what the users intend to do with the information when they have it, in other words what decisions will be taken.
(c) Budget. In general the benefits of collecting information should be greater than the costs of collecting it, but benefits in particular are not always easy to quantify. In any case the budget may be limited by other organisational factors such as availability of cash or a head office allocation of, say, Gh 5,000($866.5) per annum for marketing research purposes. Clearly this will affect the scale and type of information search that can be carried.
(d) Timescale. Quite obviously, if the decisions have to be made by May 2020 then information needs to be collected and analyzed before then, that is end of March, 2020. Once again this will have an impact on the sale and type of information search that can be carried out.
(e) Objectives. The precise information needed, set out as clearly as possible. For instance ‘to determine customer response to a price reduction of Gh 250($43.3) in terms of repeat purchasing, word-of-mouth recommendations and willingness to purchase our other products and services. The objectives should relate only to the rationale: it might be ‘nice to know’ what type of phone customers will like to use, but if this will make no difference to the decisions that will be taken once the information has been collected, there is no need to know about customers’ phones in the first place.
(f) Methods. This need only be outline, setting out, for instance, the scale of the search, the mix of quantitative and qualitative information needed, the segments of the market to be included.
(g) Reports. How the final information should be presented. Considerations here might include style of reports, degree of summarization, use of charts and other graphics, format for quantitative information (e.g. in excel spreadsheets, for ease of further analysis).


Research proposals are prepared by research agencies who have been sent the brief and asked to put in a bid to do the job.

In structure a research propanol is similar to the research brief, but it will be much more detailed in certain parts. Again there is a good chance that you will be asked to prepare a proposal, or at least the central parts of one (items (b) to (e), in the exams.

a) Background: this set out the agency’s understanding of the client company, its products and service, its market place and so on, and its understanding of why the research is required. (If they’ve misunderstood the situation it will be clear to the client at the outset)
b) Objectives: these will probably be much the same as those in the brief, although the agency understands of research techniques may have helped to define them more precisely.
c) Approach and method: how the agency proposes to carry out the research, what methods will be used, where the sample will be taken from and so on. In other words this will cover the sort of topics that are dealt with in Part D of this text, as appropriate to the situation.
d) Reports: how the final information will be presented, whether interim reports will be made, and so on. Reporting is covered in Part E of this text.
e) Timing: how long the research will take and how it will be broken down into separate stages if appropriate.
f) Fees and expenses: this is self-explanatory.
g) Personal CVs of the main agency personnel who will be involved in the project.
h) Relevant experience/references: the agency will wish to assure the client that it is capable of carrying out the research, so it will include information about similar projects undertaken in the past, and possibly reference details (i.e. previous clients who are willing to testify to the competency of the agency.
i) Contractual details will set out the agency’s terms of trade; clarify matters about ownership of the data collected. See the relevant parts of the ESOMAR code of practice in the previous chapter for an indication of likely contents of this section.

Example of Research Proposal

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Source: authors own work




After reading this chapter you should be able to:

- Appreciate the various sources of data
- Understand how to start systematically to collect this data.


In this chapter we review the various sources of both primary and secondary data. For an organization to solve its problems and make decisions relating to its marketing, they need to be assisted by information. In this chapter, a distinction is made between primary and secondary data.

Primary Sources

A Primary source provides direct or first-hand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, and results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, list serves, and newsgroups are also primary sources. In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies—research where an experiment was performed or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences.

What is Primary Market Research?

The process of collecting original data about the market, by the marketer on its own is called primary market research. The research is carried out after getting some knowledge from the secondary sources (e.g. government surveys or surveys by other companies). One can decide to go for primary market research if he/she feels that the data available from secondary sources is not fulfilling his/her requirements. Primary market research can be quantitative or qualitative in nature.

The process of research can either be done by the company/marketer or can be outsourced to the person or organisation which specializes in these type of surveys. Although this type of exercise may be lengthy and costly the information which the company/marketer gather from is highly relevant for designing marketing strategy for the client. Organizations generally depend on secondary sources for information because Primary research is not carried out frequently. In order to go for this process, the researcher has to take care of everything including the following:

1. Starting from designing questionnaires
2. Collecting replies from respondents and
3. Then interpreting it depending on requirements.

Now let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Primary Market Research to the marketer.

Advantages of Primary Market Research

1) Addressed Targeted Issues. The organization asking for the research has the complete control on the process and the research it streamlines as far as its objectives and scope is concerned. Rather than concentration on mass market researching, companies can be asked to concentrate their efforts to find data regarding specific market.
2) Data interpretation is better. Depending on their needs rather than relying on the interpretation made by collectors of secondary data, the collected data can be examined and interpreted by the marketers/companies themselves.
3) Recency of Data. Usually secondary data is not so recent and it may not be specific to the place or situation marketer is targeting. The researcher can use the irrelevant seeming information for knowing trends or may be able to find some relation with the current scenario. Thus primary data becomes a more accurate tool since we can use data which is useful for us.
4) Issues about Proprietary. The person/company that collects primary data is the owner of that information and the person/company need not share it with other companies and competitors. This gives an edge over competitors relying on secondary data.

Disadvantages of Primary Market Research

1) High Cost. The marketer has to be involved in collecting data using primary research throughout and also has to design everything. All these brings high cost to the company.
2) Time Consuming. The time required to do research accurately is very long as compared to secondary data, which can be collected in much lesser time duration. Hence, it makes the exercise exhaustive.
3) Inaccurate Feed-backs. In case the research involves taking feedbacks from the targeted audience, there are high chances that feedback given is not correct. Feedbacks by their basic nature are usually biased or given just for the sake of it.
4) More number of resources are required. Leaving aside cost and time, other resources like human resources and materials too are needed in larger quantity to do surveys and data collection.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyse, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research.

What is Secondary Market Research and Data?

Secondary data is the data collected by someone else other than the researcher himself For example, if Adonko bitters limited in Ghana contracts a research agency in Ghana to collect data for the company. This data can be gathered from government records, books, trade associations, national or international institutes, statistics agencies, etc. Research done using this readily available information is called Secondary Market Research.

Factors to be considered while collecting data from secondary sources:

1) Accuracy of data: Marketers should evaluate the credibility of source of data and methods used to collect data because these factors directly influence the accuracy of data.
2) Time and Cost required to collect data: Some sources of data charge money in order to give access to their information, so an organization needs to evaluate this cost with the cost of collecting data by themselves (primary market research).
3) Marketers also needs to take care that information collected answers the issues which need to be addressed.

Advantages of Secondary Market Research

1) Time and Cost effective: Usually time and cost required by persons/companies to collect secondary data is less than efforts required to collect primary data. Data is available freely or at far lesser cost through secondary sources.
2) Extensiveness of data: Data collected by governments and other institutes is usually very extensive and covers a large spectrum of issues. An organization can filter that data and consider only parts which they are targeting. For examples census data collected by Ghana Government is very extensive and covers large spectrum.
3) Basis of Primary Research: Data collected from secondary sources gives an idea to organization about effectiveness of primary research. From secondary data one can form hypothesis and can evaluate the cost and efforts required to conduct own surveys. One can also note down issues, which are not covered from secondary research and, need to be addressed through primary research.

Disadvantages of Secondary Market Research

1) Data Definitions: Persons/companies conducting secondary research needs to understand various parameters and assumptions that primary research had taken while collected information. A term may have different meaning for different people, example a term 'youth' used is ambiguous and one needs to find what is the assumed age taken by primary researcher.
2) Inaccuracy of Data: As some company’s don’t gather their own information, first-hand, they totally dependent on someone else's efforts. Primary researcher may have been biased or may have used questionable methods to collect data; this can be pretty risky for secondary researchers to base their report on such data.
3) Time Lag Issues: Information collected from books, historical surveys are usually not synchronize with the times and might have changed drastically. Thus making such information a foundation of research may be highly risky for the business or project.
4) May not be Specific: Extensiveness of such information is its benefit as well as drawback. Organization will not get answers to their specific issues through this data directly and one needs to 'mine' further into it to get relevant information.
5) Proprietary Issues: Some of the secondary sources might have copyrighted their information and using them without permission can lead to various legal complications.

Usually it’s for small organizations and projects, secondary market research is preferred because the time and amount of money required is less.


Various libraries and professional organization are also useful source of data. Professional organizations that are useful in the world include the list below:

- Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM)
- American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)
- Association of Marketing Survey Organizations
- Institute of Management
- Market Research Society
- Confederation of British Industry
- Chartered Institute of Marketing
- Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
- Advertising Association

There are major libraries in UK and US that have substantial commercial libraries attached and these provide large quantities of relevant data. The following specialist libraries includes:

- The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress is the official research library of the United States Congress. ...
- The New York Public Library (Stephen A. ...
- Boston Public Library. ...
- The Library Company of Philadelphia. ...
- Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
- City business library, Brewers Hall Gardens, London EC2
- Science Reference Library, Chancery Lane, London WC2
- Statistics and Market Intelligence Library, 1 Victoria street, London SW1
- Libraries attached to London, Manchester and Warwick Business Schools

Academic researchers also publish research findings on various aspects of the marketing process, often within specific industry sectors, at an even lower cost. Government department collect, analyze and publish a vast array of facts, figures survey and reports. Newspapers, trade journals and trade associations regularly publish surveys and market reports for as little as the cover price. The burdens of scanning the press wandering through libraries and searching among mountains of journals can be reduce with data search facilities. Both CD-ROM databases and on-line databases can search newspapers, magazines and journals for key words. Some databases cover books, research reports and dissertations. Other on-line services, such as the internet, are a great source of marketing intelligence. However, much of the information required by marketing researchers is only available from commercial providers who change for access, for example Info plus and Dialog.

Secondary source are cheaper and faster, whether it is a complete market report or just a key fact, figure or name. However, the accuracy and reliability of the secondary source must also be considered.


Exploratory research provides a broad understanding of an industry, a service or an area in which a firm wants to expand its knowledge. Three steps involved:

1. Spelling out information needs;
2. Looking for promising leads by title or apparent account;
3. Getting hold of promising published material

Marketers often has to choose between print format and computer format when choosing how to capture the data. Although readily available print source are usually inexpensive, checking out print sources take considerable time. Use of on-line sources by comparison, is much quicker and can often provide more pertinent information. However, it costs money to obtain data in this way, and the novice or even the person with computer experience is likely to need expert assistance.

Spelling out information needs

Marketing research begins with a statement of the problem. A statement of the marketing problem indicates the nature of the marketing decisions to be made. In turn, this leads to a statement of the kind of information that is required to reach these decisions. The nature of the information requirement always has to be specified. Failure to do this will make the search for secondary information unfocused and indefinite.

Looking for promising leads

Libraries are the best source for printed material. Libraries include the public library, the college or university library (Balm library legon and Knust Library all in Ghana) and the specialist library. The public library is often a good starting point. Even in a small town, the public library may have commercial directories and other sources of data. Even better is the college, university or business school library, if there is one readily available- in the larger ones, on-line searches may be possible. In major cities there is probably an excellent commercial library. The commercial library in a large city has not only good material, but good general facilities as well.

An investigator will also want to see if there is a specialist library nearby. Typically found in industrial and commercial areas, these are usually privately maintained (by a business or an association) and carry considerable depth of material within some specialized topic, such as advertising or direct-mail selling. A good public library may give information on specialist libraries that may be prepared to make their services available.

When visiting a library you should arrive armed with a complete knowledge of the business problem. When talking with the library staff about the problem, it will soon become clear whether they know how to help. If the person at the desk cannot help, they will generally refer you to someone else. Your enquiry may also indicate that there are specialists in other library systems that can be of help.

Obtaining promising material

The economy

In order to have an understanding of the economic climate, since all marketing effort operates within this framework, the marketer or marketing researcher must have a continuing and current understanding of the economy. Several newspapers and periodicals can be used for this purpose- for example, the Financial Times and the Economist. Libraries retain numbers of the major publications and these can be easily accessed.

Particular field of business

Keeping up data with knowledge about a field of business makes it a necessity to read trade papers covering the field on a regular basis. These also can be helpful in getting a general feel of a particular business or industry field that the firm is considering entering.

Consumer Geographic’s, demographics and psychographics

The term geographic, in terms of consumers, means where people live. The word demographics concerns the statics of an area`s population, such as number of households along with their composition, income, sex, age, education and occupation. Combining geographic and demographics has coined the word geodemographics, which is simply a demographics description of those within specific geographic areas. The data are sometimes presented as descriptions of localities; in other cases the market predefines the characteristics of what are considered their best customers or prospects and obtains a list of where such people live.

The term psychographics is used by psychologists to mean personality characteristics of an individual. Now that its usage has adapted to marketing research, its meaning has been expanded. It is used to describe people not only in terms of their personality characteristics, but also in terms of their interests and lifestyles as a reflection of these characteristics.

Lifestyle Databases and Geographic Information

Data on sales and purchases underpin many databases and this is usually overlaid with a considerable amount of profile data. This is known as biographic-the fusion of profile and data on sales and purchases. As a result of associating people`s names, addresses, purchasing behaviour and lifestyles and placing it all together on a single record we can obtain an idea of someone`s lifestyle. We can also create data fusion by linking such data with a Geographic Information System database. Linking purchasing behaviour data with lifestyle, geodemographics, and panel data helps to produce patterns of purchasing buying in various regions.

Information sources for statistics

The census and private sources provides statistics about consumers. Since the census provides details about where and who consumers are – specific geography by characteristics such as age , sex, ethnicity, size and nature of the living unit, type of dwelling, and rental or value of dwelling unit – it has many immediate marketing applications. A firm can use local data to tailor neighborhood promotions. A bank can make use of local data to obtain a demographic picture of the neighborhoods surrounding its various locations. With this information it can single out neighborhood most closely matching its profiles of typical purchases of personal loans, mutual funds, and other banking services. It can effectively target its advertising and direct-mail efforts.

Information about business and industry

General categorization of business and industry

Grouping by kind of business is just as important for business and industry as demographics is for consumers. One of the best and most commonly used methods of classifying business and industry by type is the Standard Industry Classification (SIC), which lists all types of business and assigns classification numbers to each.




After reading this chapter you should be able to:

- Understand what research design is about a
- Appreciate the design types and sub-types;
- Understand what exploratory and descriptive research design is about
- Be aware of ethical considerations in research.

Definition of research design

The research design refers to the overall strategy that a company/marketer choose to integrate the different components of the study in a coherent and logical way, thereby, ensuring you will effectively address the research problem; it constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement, and analysis of data.

Design types and sub-types

- Descriptive (e.g., case-study, naturalistic observation, survey)
- Correlational (e.g., case-control study, observational study)
- Semi-experimental (e.g., field experiment, quasi-experiment)
- Experimental (experiment with random assignment)
- Review (literature review, systematic review)


What is Exploratory Research?

Human beings have a natural curiosity about the world around us. We turn to ask questions like: Why is the sky blue? Why do birds fly? Questions like these are often the foundation of exploratory research because they reveal our desire to understand the world around us.

Exploratory research (ER) is an examination into a subject in an attempt to gain further insight. With ER a researcher starts with a general idea and uses research as a tool to identify issues that could be the focus of future research.

Look at how ER is used in business. For instance, let's say you own a bakery called Gods Finger. If you wanted to improve your sales, but weren't sure where to start, you might employ ER to find out the areas of your business that need improvement.

It's important to note that the point of exploratory research is not to gain a definitive answer, like you would with a mathematics problem. For instance, you know that no matter how many different ways you look at the mathematics problem 1 + 1, the answer is always 2.

Methods of Exploratory Research

You may wonder how you can explore a topic if there is little information about it. There are several methods that are used in exploratory research. Researchers may use primary or secondary research, or a combination of both types of research.

Primary research is data that a company/someone collects personally, usually from a group of people gathered specifically for the study. Primary research is collected through the use of interviews, focus groups, customer surveys, or any way that organizations are able to obtain feedback. For instance, social media and blogs are a great way for business owners to obtain customer feedback

Secondary research is the analysis and synthesis of primary research that was compiled at a previous date. Secondary research can be gathered from marketing research data, magazines, old reports, or any other source where relevant information has been stored.

Once upon a time someone had the idea that the world was flat and that if you went too far, you would surely fall off. We now know that is not true. We know this because of ER. When you conduct ER, you are an explorer, like Magellan or Lewis and Clark or even Dora the Explorer. Before explorers set out on a new adventure, they gather primary and secondary research. They look at similar expeditions, talk to others about their expeditions, and gather any data that will be helpful in guiding them on their journey. ER is the initial research conducted so you understand where you need to focus your efforts, or where to point your compass.

Example of Exploratory Research

The owner of The God Finger has many, many ideas for improving the bakery's sales, but isn't sure which will work. They think increasing the flavors of cupcakes the bakery sells will bring in more customers, but know they need more information. They intend to conduct ER to investigate whether expanding their cupcake selection will lead to an increase in sales, or if there is a better idea.

The owner starts by examining prior research available on food business improvement methods. They hope that this will give them an idea on the types of questions and methods that were helpful to others. Next they develop a list of open-ended questions, questions that let respondents answer however they want.

The God Finger, for instance, asks respondents how they could improve the customer experience. The most common customer responses included comments regarding the location, the atmosphere, the length of time it took to be served, and wanting the ability to customize their cupcakes.

Purpose of Research

As you probably already know, there are many reasons why research is done. But, what are its purposes? Why bother with all the different styles, techniques, experiments and measurements?

Why did the first sailors, the ones before Columbus and Magellan, hop on their little canoes and paddle out? Humans naturally explore the world around them, wanting to learn about the planet we have labelled Earth.

Why did Hippocrates and Galen examine and write about the maladies of man? The need to describe and understand our world is found in even the youngest children.

Why did we develop an entire group of sciences to understand humans? Because what good is being human if you cannot explain why we do something. Maybe I am being a little to 'meta' about all this. The purpose of psychology is to explore, to describe and to explain how and why a person thinks, feels and acts.

Exploratory Research

Exploratory research is defined as the initial research into a hypothetical or theoretical idea. This is where a researcher has an idea or has observed something and seeks to understand more about it. An exploratory research project is an attempt to lay the groundwork that will lead to future studies or to determine if what is being observed might be explained by a currently existing theory. Most often, exploratory research lays the initial groundwork for future research.

To make this a little more understandable, imagine you are blindfolded or placed into a room without light. You are not told if something is in the room, but you have a suspicion there is something in there. You shuffle out slowly into the room, exploring with the tips of your fingers until you find something.

Exploratory research can come in two big forms: either a new topic or a new angle. A new topic is often unexpected and startling in its findings. For example, American psychologist John Watson really began his behaviourism research with a new topic on the study of human behaviours and learning: rats! Because humans have brains and rats have brains, it makes a certain kind of sense. There was an attempt to find the universal laws of learning in all brains.

New angles can come from new ways of looking at things, either from a theoretical perspective or a new way of measuring something. For instance, computers have allowed large populations to be looked at. Old experiments can now involve thousands of people from around the globe instead of a few people from the local train station.

Descriptive Research

Once the groundwork is established, the newly explored field needs more information. The next step is descriptive research, defined as attempts to explore and explain while providing additional information about a topic. This is where research is trying to describe what is happening in more detail, filling in the missing parts and expanding our understanding. This is also where as much information is collected as possible instead of making guesses or elaborate models to predict the future - the 'what' and 'how,' rather than the 'why.'

Remember that room you're blind in? Descriptive research is the act of exploring the thing in the dark, creating a fuller picture of what you are looking at. It is not quite as tentative as exploratory, but you still are not 100% sure what you've found, although you're starting to get an idea. You begin to fill in what you know with what you find.

A psychological example is the use of CT scans, MRI, fMRI, PET, and SPECT imaging to describe the living brain. We now have the clearest picture in all of history of the thinking, living brain. Just a few decades ago, a person who wanted to look at a living brain had two options: a really blurry CT scan without any detail or to crack open the skull and peel back the protective layers around the brain.

Both options are better than a century ago, where you kind of had to wait for someone to die to examine their brain. Research over the last few decades has been expanding our understanding, providing descriptions of the active processes in the brain.

One field that is quickly growing is the field of forensic psychology. Over the last few decades, studies exploring the decision making process of police officers, the techniques used to question witnesses and the jury processes are all being examined. There has been an active interest in many researchers to explore the field that the judicial system needs.

For instance, looking into eyewitness memory studies reveals research explaining and describing the factors that influence what people see. For example, did you know that a person with different lights shining at different angles on a person's face can alter a person's entire look, including their ethnicity? How about that, even in broad daylight, people still get gender of perpetrators and victims mixed up?

The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods

One of the goals of science is description (other goals include prediction and explanation). Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound — they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect.

There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods. This article will briefly describe each of these methods, their advantages, and their drawbacks. This may help you better understand research findings, whether reported in the mainstream media, or when reading a research study on your own.


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Marketing Research. A Guidebook for Tertiary Students
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Marketing research, Divisions of marketing research, Primary and Secondary data, Research briefs and proposal, Quality and Quantitative, Questionnaires
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Alfred Owusu (Author), 2020, Marketing Research. A Guidebook for Tertiary Students, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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