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Defining the Marketing

Research Problem and


Developing an Approach
Bambang Wiharto

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Chapter 2

Introduction

Defining the problem is the most important step,


because only when a problem has been clearly and
accurately identified can a research project be
conducted properly.
properly
Defining the marketing research problem sets the
course of the entire project.

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Chapter 2

Importance of Defining the


Problem

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Problem definition involves stating the general


marketing research problem and identifying its
specific components.
Only when marketing research problem has been
clearly defined can research be designed and
conducted properly.
Inadequate problem definition is a leading cause
of failure of marketing research project.
Better communication and more involvement in
problem definition are the most frequently
mentioned ways of improving the usefulness of
research.
Chapter 2

The Process of Defining the Problem


and Developing an Approach

Tasks Involved

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Discussions with Decision Maker(s)


Interviews with Experts
Secondary Data Analysis
Qualitative Research

Environmental Context of the Problem

Chapter 2

Discussions with the Decision


Maker

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Discussions with the decision maker (DM) are


extremely important.
important
The DM needs to understand the capabilities and
limitations of research.
Research provides information relevant to
management decisions, but it cannot provide
solutions,
solutions because solutions require managerial
judgment.
Conversely, the researcher needs to understand the
nature of what decisions managers face - the
management problem - and what they hope to learn
from the research
Chapter 2

Problem Audit

The problem audit provides a useful framework for


interacting with the DM and identifying the
underlying causes of the problem.
The problem audit,
audit is a comprehensive
examination of a marketing problem with the goal of
understanding its origin and nature.
It is important to perform a problem audit because
the DM, in most cases, has only a vague idea of
what the problem is.

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Chapter 2

Problem Audit

The problem audit involves discussions with the DM on


the following issues:

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The events that led to the decision that action is needed, or


the history of the problem.
The alternative courses of action available to the DM
The criteria that will be used to evaluate the alternative
courses of action.
The potential actions that are likely to be suggested based on
the research findings.
The information that is needed to answer the DMs questions.
The manner in which the DM will use each item of information
in making the decision.
The corporate culture as it relates to decision making.
Chapter 2

Interaction Between the DM and the


Researcher Should Be Characterized
by:

Communication (free exchange ideas)


Cooperation (marketing research is a team project)
Confidence (mutual trust)
Candor (an attitude of openness, no hidden
agenda)
Closeness (feeling of warmth and closeness,
between the DM and the researcher)
Continuity (must interact continually)
Creativity (the interaction between the DM and the
researcher should be creative rather than formulaic)

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Chapter 2

Interviews with Industry Experts

Interviews with industry experts,


experts individuals
knowledgeable about the firm and the industry, may
help formulate the marketing research problem.
These experts may be found both inside and
outside the firm.
Typically, expert information is obtained by
unstructured personal interviews, without
administering a formal questionnaire.
The purpose of interviewing experts is to help define
the marketing research problem rather than to
develop a conclusive solution.

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Chapter 2

Secondary Data Analysis

Primary data,
data are collected or produced by the
researcher for the specific purpose of addressing
the research problem.
Secondary data are:

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data collected for some purpose other than the problem


at hand.
include information made available by business and
government sources, commercial marketing research
firms and computerized databases.
an economical and quick source of background
information.
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Qualitative Research

Sometimes qualitative research must be


undertaken to gain an understanding of the
problem and its underlying factors.
factors
Qualitative research is unstructured,
unstructured exploratory
in nature, based on small samples, and may
utilize popular qualitative techniques such as

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focus group (group interviews),


word association (asking respondents to indicate
their first response to stimulus words), and
depth interviews (one-on-one interviews that
probe the respondents thought in detail).
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Environmental Context of the


Problem

To understand the background to a marketing


research problem,
problem the researcher must understand the
clients firm and industry.
In particular, the researcher analyze the factors that
have an impact on the definition of the marketing
research problem such as:

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past information and forecast pertaining to the industry and the


firm;
resources and constraints of the firm;
objective of the decision maker;
buyer behavior;
legal environment;
economic environment; and
marketing and technological skills of the firm.
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Management Decision Problem


and Marketing Research Problem

The management decision problem asks what the


DM needs to do, whereas the marketing research
problem ask what information is needed and how it
can best be obtained.
Research can provide the necessary information to
make a sound decision.
The management decision problem is action
oriented.
oriented It is concerned with the possible actions the
DM could take.

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How should the loss of market share be arrested?


Should the market be segmented differently?
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Management Decision Problem


and Marketing Research Problem

The marketing research problem is information


oriented. It wants to determine what information is
needed to make the best decision.
It involves determining what information is needed
and how that information can be obtained effectively
and efficiently.
Whereas the management decision problem
focuses on symptoms,
symptoms the marketing research
problem focuses on underlying causes.
causes

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Chapter 2

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Management Decision Problem


versus Marketing Research Problem
Management decision
problem

Asks what the


decision maker needs
to do

Action oriented

Focuses on symptoms

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Marketing research
problem
Asks what information
is needed and how it
should be obtained
Information oriented
Focuses on the
underlying causes
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Management Decision Problem


versus Marketing Research
Problem Examples

Management decision
problem
Should a new product
be introduced?

Should the advertising


campaign be changed?

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Chapter 2

Marketing research
problem
To determine consumer
preferences and
purchase intentions for
the proposed new
product.
To determine the
effectiveness of the
current advertising
campaign
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Defining the Marketing Research


Problem

The general rule to be followed in defining the


research problem is that the definition should:
1.

2.

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Allow the researcher to obtain all the information


needed to address the management decision
problem.
Guide the researcher in proceeding with the project.

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Defining the Marketing Research


Problem (Cont)

Two common errors in problem definition: too


broadly definition and too narrowly definition.
A broad definition does not provide clear guidelines
for the subsequent steps involve in the project.
A narrow focus may preclude consideration of some
courses of action, particularly those that are
innovative and may not be obvious.

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Chapter 2

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The Broad Statement and The


Specific Component

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The Broad Statement provides perspective on


the problem and act as a safeguard against
committing the second type of error (define the
marketing research problem too narrowly).
The Specific component focus on the key
aspects of the problem and provide clear
guidelines on how to proceed further, thereby
reducing the likelihood of the first type of error.

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Components of the Approach


In the process of developing an approach, we must
not lose sight of the goal - the outputs.
outputs
The outputs of the approach development process
should include the following components:
Objective/theoretical framework
Analytical models
Research Questions
Hypotheses, and
Specification of Information Needed.
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Chapter 2

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Objective/Theoretical Framework

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In general, research should be based on objective


evidence and supported by theory.
theory
A theory is conceptual scheme based on
foundational statements called axioms, which are
assumed to be true.
Objective evidence (that is unbiased and
supported by empirical findings) is gathered by
compiling relevant findings from secondary
sources.
The researcher should rely on theory to
determine which variables should be investigated.
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The Role of Theory in Applied


Marketing Research

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Conceptualizing and identifying key variables


(IV and DV).
Operationalizing key variables.
Selecting a research design.
Selecting a sample.
Analyzing and interpreting data.
Integrating findings.

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Analytical Model

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Analytical model.
model An explicit specification of a set
of variables and their relationships designed to
represent some real system or process in whole or in
part. Models can have many different forms such as:
verbal, graphical, an mathematical structure.
Verbal model.
model Analytical models that provide a
written representation of the relationships among
variables.
Graphical model.
model Analytical models that provide a
visual picture of the relationships among variables.
Mathematical model.
model Analytical models that
explicitly describe the relationships among variables,
usually in equation form.
form
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Research Questions

Research questions are refined statements of the


specific components of the problem.
The components of problem define the problem in
specific terms, but further detail may be needed to
develop an approach.
Each component of the problem, may have to be
broken down into subcomponent or research
questions.
questions
Research questions ask what specific information
is required with respect to the problem components.
Information obtained using research questions
should aid the decision maker.

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Research Question and


Theoretical Framework

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The formulation of the research questions should


be guided not only by the problem definition, but
also by the theoretical framework and the analytical
model adopted.
adopted
The theoretical framework and the analytical
model play a significant role in the
operationalization and measurement of variables
specified by the research questions.
questions
The research questions were further refined by
precisely defining the variables and determining
how they were to be operationalized.
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Hypotheses

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A hypothesis (H) is an unproven statement or


proposition about a factor or phenomenon that is
of interest to the researcher.
It may be a tentative statement about relationship
between two or more variables as stipulated by the
theoretical framework or the analytical model.
Often, a hypothesis is a possible answer to the
research question.
An important role of a hypothesis is to suggest
variables to be included in the research design.
design
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Hypotheses Vs Research
Question
Hypotheses

go beyond research questions


because they are statement of relationships
or propositions rather than merely questions
to which answers are sought.
Where are research questions are
interrogative, hypotheses are declarative and
can be tested empirically.

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Hypotheses
RQ: Do Customers of Sears exhibit store loyalty?
H: Customers of Sears are loyal.
Hypotheses are an important part of the approach to
the problem.

Objective/
Theoretical
Framework

Components of the
Marketing Research Problem
Research Questions

Development
of Research
Questions
and
Hypotheses

Analytical
Model
Hypotheses
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Specification of Information
Needed

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By focusing on each component of the problem


and the analytical framework and models,
research questions, and hypotheses, the
researcher can determine what information
should be obtained in the marketing research
project.
It is helpful to carry out this exercise for each
component of the problem and make a list
specifying all the information that should be
collected.
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Internet and Marketing Research


Problem

Discussion with decision maker,


maker anywhere at
any time.
Interviews with industry experts.
experts The Internet
can be searched to find industry experts outside the
clients organization.
Internet search engine can be used to collect
secondary data quickly and economically.
Environmental Context of the problem.
problem Past
information and forecasts of trends can be found by
searching for the appropriate information with the
search engine.

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