Paurav Shukla is the Professor of Marketing at Essex Business School, University of Essex, UK. His research interests include cross-cultural marketing, comparative consumer behaviour, and marketing in emerging markets with a particular focus on luxury brands. His research highlights the hidden meaning
Marketing research yields relevant, accurate, and timely information about consumers, and plays a critical role in managerial decision making. By putting marketing research results to creative use, firms can achieve and sustain a competitive advantage over their competitors. However, textbooks on this subject are often overwhelming to the layperson, focusing on abstract concepts and using difficult terminology in their explanations. By contrast, this e-book primer, Essentials of Marketing Research, introduces students and managers to important technical and analytical concepts in a very accessible manner. It can be downloaded for free here.
The text is divided into eight chapters, each of which focuses on a specific issue relating to marketing research projects. The first chapter introduces the marketing research process and discusses the scientific research approach in detail, particularly how to define the research problem. Chapter two and three explain exploratory and conclusive research designs. These introductory chapters form the basis of the rest of the text which explores such topics as focus groups, cross-sectional, longitudinal, and causal research designs, survey methodology (such as personal interviews, telephone surveys, online surveys, and observational studies), sampling techniques, measurement and scaling (such as the Likert scale), questionnaire design, data analysis, and writing a market research report.
Charts and tables are used throughout the text, and abstract concepts are always explained with direct and easily-applied examples.
The field of marketing has experienced unprecedented developments in the 20th century which have continued at no lesser pace in the 21st century. Within the last few decades shifts have been observed in the marketing thought, marketing practice and every direct and indirect issue and function related to marketing. The constant shift in the field has led to many interesting developments including the field of marketing research.
Despite the accessibility and prevalence of research in today’s society, many people when asked, share common misperceptions about exactly what research is, how research can be used, what research can tell us, and the limitations of research. For some people, the term “research” conjures up images of scientists in laboratories watching guinea pig and chemicals experiments. When asked what is ‘marketing research’ people associate it with telemarketer surveys, or people approaching them at the local shopping mall to “just ask you a few questions about your shopping habits.” In reality, these stereotypical examples of research are only a small part of what research comprises. It is therefore not surprising that many students (and managers) are unfamiliar with the various types of research methods, the basics of how research is conducted, what research can be used for, and the limits of using research to answer questions and acquire new knowledge.
As an active researcher, academic, consultant and trainer, I find the students and managers I interact with struggling to understand the various issues associated with marketing research. When probed they express three major concerns: 1. incapability to comprehend research language used in most books; 2. the coverage of most books and its usage in real life; and 3. Relevance of the examples used. Most books in the subject area are comprehensive and cover the subject in minute details but majority of the time readers require an overview and not the most in-depth understanding of a specific phenomenon. The heavy emphasis on technical language and the little found use and relevance of the books disengages the readers from purchasing, reading and understanding the research books and in turn these readers remain distant from the research process.
Therefore, there seems a need for a research book which can cover the relevant issues in a simple and palatable form for the readers and make them engaged in the process of research. This book attempts to attend to the above stated issues by introducing technical and analytical concepts in a very accessible manner. Some of the readers may get really interested in the field of marketing research after reading this book and so this book can be called a primer and simple background for understanding advanced technical textbooks in the field.
There are eight chapters in this book, each of which focuses on a specific issue relating to the marketing research project. The first chapter introduces the marketing research process and discusses in details the scientific research approach and how to define the research problem. Chapter two and three explain the exploratory and conclusive research designs.
These chapters form the basis of the following chapters on sampling (chapter 4), measurement and scaling (chapter 5). Questionnaire building is discussed in details in chapter six followed by data preparation and preliminary data analysis (chapter 7). The last chapter focuses on report preparation and presentation issues.
Every attempt has been made to keep this compendium simple and accessible however sometimes the use of jargons (technical terms) becomes necessary. In such cases, examples have also been added to make it easier for you to understand the phenomenon.
At this juncture, I would like to thank Kristin and Johan at Ventus publications who motivated me for this endeavour from conceptualization to concretization. I also take this opportunity to thank my students, friends, and colleagues, who have created this learning experience for me. Their discussions, remarks and debates have helped me learn and share this learning with you via this compendium. My special thanks to Ekta, my wife, without whose sacrifice and constant support this compendium would not have seen the light of the day. Hence, I dedicate the book to her.
Brighton, 29 Oct, 2008