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4.2 Marketing Research: an aid to decision making

Learning Objectives

The objectives of this section is to help students …

  1. Understanding the role of marketing research
  2. Understanding the marketing research process and the techniques employed

 Discovering why they chew

Juicy Fruit Gum, the oldest brand of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, was not chewing up the teen market, gum’s top demographic. In 1997, the company found itself under pressure from competitors. Sales and market share were down. How could Wrigley make more kids chomp on Juicy Fruit?

What qualities about Juicy Fruit might appeal to teens? Wrigley went to the source to find out. It found kids who chew five sticks or more of Juicy Fruit each week and promptly gave them a homework assignment. Find pictures that remind them of the gum and write a short story about it. From the focus group, Wrigley learned that teens chew Juicy Fruit because it is sweet. It refreshes and energizes them.

Their ad agency, BBDO, confirmed what the teens were saying. BBDO asked more than 400 heavy gum chewers to rate various brands by attributes that best represented them. For Juicy Fruit, respondents picked phrases such as “has the right amount of sweetness” and “is made with natural sweetness”.

Another study by BBDO looked into why teens chew gum. Was it because they are stressed out—or because they forgot to brush their teeth before going to school? Nearly three out of four kids said they stick a wad into their mouth when they crave something sweet. And Juicy Fruit was the top brand they chose to fulfill that need (Big Red was a distant second). (10)


Although the marketing research conducted by the Wrigley Co. was fairly simple, it provided a new direction for their marketing strategy. BBDO developed four TV commercials with the “Gotta Have Sweet” theme. Roughly 70 per cent of respondents voluntarily recalled the Juicy Fruit name after watching the commercial (the average recall for a brand of sugar gum is 57 per cent). Sales of 100-stick boxes of Juicy Fruit rose 5 per cent after the start of the ad campaign, reversing a 2 per cent decline prior to it. Juicy Fruit’s market share also increased from 4.9 per cent to 5.3 per cent, the biggest gain of any established chewing gum brand during the year following the campaign.


Figure 4.5: The marketing planning process

Marketing research addresses the need for quicker, yet more accurate, decision making by the marketer. The impetus for this situation is the complex relationship between the business firm and the ever-changing external environment. In particular, most marketers are far removed from their customers; yet most know who their customers are, what they want, and what competitors are doing. Often the marketer relies on salespeople and dealers for information, but more and more the best source of information is marketing research.

It should be noted that most marketing decisions are still made without the use of formal marketing research. In many cases, the time required to do marketing research is not available. In other cases, the cost of obtaining the data is prohibitive or the desired data cannot be obtained in reliable form. Ultimately, successful marketing executives make decisions on the basis of a blend of facts and intuition.

The nature and importance of marketing research

Informal and, by today’s standards, crude attempts to analyze the market date back to the earliest days of the marketing revolution. Only in recent years, however, has the role of research as it relates to management been clearly recognized.

Reflecting this change in orientation, the following definition of marketing research is offered: marketing research is the scientific and controlled gathering of non-routine marketing information undertaken to help management solve marketing problems. There is often hearty disagreement over the answer to the question of whether marketing research is a science. One’s answer depends on the employed definition of “science”. To be specific, a research activity should use the scientific method. In this method, hypotheses (tentative statements of relationships or of solutions to problems) are drawn from informal observations. These hypotheses are then tested. Ultimately, the hypothesis is accepted, rejected, or modified according to the results of the test. In a true science, verified hypotheses are turned into “laws”. In marketing research, verified hypotheses become the generalizations upon which management develops its marketing programs. (To simplify our discussion, we will use “questions” as a synonym of “hypothesis”.)

The mechanics of marketing research must be controlled so that the right facts are obtained in the answer to the correct problem. The control of fact-finding is the responsibility of the research director, who must correctly design the research and carefully supervise its execution to ensure that it goes according to plan. Maintaining control in marketing research is often difficult because of the distance that separates the researcher and the market and because the services of outsiders are often required to complete a research project. (1)

Student Example

Apple creating and updating their products consistently always leads to consumers waiting to see what else could possibly be done to help improve their products. This is where marketing research can ve utilized and can really help the company to advance in their sales.

Tarrah Clark

Class of 2020

What needs researching in marketing?

An easy, and truthful, answer to this question is “everything”. There is no aspect of marketing to which research cannot be applied. Every concept presented in this marketing text and every element involved in the marketing management process can be subjected to a great deal of careful marketing research. One convenient way to focus attention on those matters that especially need researching is to consider the elements involved in marketing management. Many important questions relating to the consumer can be raised. Some are:

• Who is/are the customer(s)?

• What does he/she desire in the way of satisfaction?

• Where does he/she choose to purchase?

• Why does he/she buy, or not buy?

• When does he/she purchase?

• How does he/she go about seeking satisfaction in the market?

Another area where research is critical is profits. Two elements are involved. First, there is the need to forecast sales and related costs—resulting in profits. Second, there is the necessity to plan a competitive marketing program that will produce the desired level of sales at an appropriate cost. Sales forecasting is the principal tool used in implementing the profit-direction element in the marketing management concept. Of course, the analysis of past sales and interpretation of cost information are important in evaluation of performance and provide useful facts for future planning.

A great deal of marketing research is directed toward rather specialized areas of management. These activities are broken down into five major areas of marketing research. Briefly, these activities are:

research on markets—market trends, market share, market potentials, market characteristics, completion, and other market intelligence

Student Example

As a business development intern, I work a lot with the marketing team in helping them get the time-consuming, yet necessary research on either specific markets we are entering or potential new clients. For example, I conducted research on the retail market in the Philippines. When I do this kind of research, I look at the market trends, forecasts, and things like the relationship between brick-and-mortar stores vs. online shopping in this case.

Cassidy Lane

Class of 2020

research on sales—sales analysis, sales forecasting, quota-setting, sales territory design, sales performance measurement, trade channels, distribution costs, and inventories • research on products—new product research, product features, brand image, concept tests, product tests, and market tests

Student Example

When I worked at a retail store, we would forecast our sales for the day based on how much was sold on that day last year and then set our individual quotas based on that information. We would also analyze at the end of the day why we either met or missed our goals. For example, if the weather was bad, that could affect our sales for the day regardless of whether it was a big day the year before. We did a lot of product research, especially on new products, because it made our customers’ experience better if we were able to tell them about why the products were of better quality than others.

Kami Root

Class of 2020

research on advertising and promotion—promotion concepts, copy research, media research, merchandising, packaging, advertising effectiveness measurement

research on corporate growth and development—economic and technological forecasting, corporate planning inputs, corporate image, profitability measurement, merger and acquisition, and facilities location.


Sales forecast

Cost forecast

Product testing

Consumer needs

Consumer attitudes

Consumer product usage

Market size/trends

Product replacement

Demographic trends

Legislative impact

Price testing

Marketing communication testing

Channel locations


Psychographic trends

Environmental trends

Table 4.1: Areas of research application.

Newsline: How execs use research

Creating and introducing new products is the most important research priority among marketing executives. The Marketing Science Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, surveyed 160 executives from its sponsoring organizations. The executives, representing 60 major consumer and industrial goods and services corporations, were asked to divide 100 points among several research areas.

After successful new product introductions, the executives said that market orientation and customer relationships are the next most important areas. Those issues displaced improving the use of marketing information and measuring brand equity as the second- and third-highest concerns, respectively, in the previous survey.

“The new research priorities indicate that a shift is taking place in marketing practice”, notes Donald Lehmann, executive director of the institute. “Market orientation has taken hold and the increasing power of the consumer is apparent in the movement away from product-driven strategies. Marketers also realize that they need to make choices about who their customers should be and whose needs they are best equipped to meet … and most significantly, they are looking for better ways to anticipate adoption and diffusion of really new products.” said Marni Clippenger, communications director at MSI, “Companies seem to be shifting away from using the brand to really figuring out what customers want.” (11)


1. Marketing research is the scientific and controlled gathering of nonroutine marketing information undertaken to help management solve marketing problems.

2. Any business that is consumer-oriented will benefit from marketing research.

3. Research can be applied to every facet of marketing.



(10): “How Sweet It Is,” American Demographics, March 2000, p, S 18; “Flavor du Jour,” American Demographics, March 2000, p, SI0; Erika Rasmusson, “Cool for Sale,” Sales & Marketing Management, March 1998, pp. 20-22,+

(11): Rachel Rosenthal. “New Products Reign as Research Priority,” Advertising Age, August 8, 1994, p. 26; Robert McMath, “To Test or Not To Test,” American Demographics, June 1998, p. 64; John McManus, “Mission Invisible,” American Demographics, March 1999, p. 6.


(1) Ralph H. Sprague, Jr. and Hugh J. Watson, Decision Support Systems:Putting Theory Into Practice, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,1986, p. 1

(2) Claire Selitz, Lawrence S. Wrightsman, and Stuart W. Cook, Research Methods in Social Relations, New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1976, pp. 11 4-115.

(3) Ian P. Murphy, “Research with Bottom Line in Mind Only,” Marketing News, March 3, 1997, p. 10.

(4) Pamela L. Alreck and Robert D. Settle, The Survey Research Hand book, Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1995.

(5) Seymour Sudman, Applied Sampling, New York: Academic Press, 1976


4.2 Marketing Research: an aid to decision making Copyright © 2017 by Babu John Mariadoss. All Rights Reserved.

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