Defining the Marketing Research Problem and Developing an Approach

1. Problem Definition
2. Approach to the Problem:
Analytical Framework & Model
Research Questions and Hypotheses
Problem Definition
A broad statement of the general problem and identification of the specific components of the marketing research problem.
Tasks involved in Problem Definition
1) Discussions with the Decision Makers
2) Interviews with Industry Experts
3) Secondary Data Analysis
4) Qualitative Research
Problem audit
A comprehensive examination of a marketing problem to understand its origin and nature.
Discussions with the Decision Makers – Problem audit
1. History of the problem
2. Alternative courses of action available to the DM
3. Criteria for evaluating alternative courses
4. Nature of potential actions based on research
5. Information needed to answer the DM questions
6. How will each item of information be used to answer the DM’s questions
7. Corporate decision making culture
Interview with industry experts
Experience survey/key-informant technique:
Interviews with people knowledgeable about the general topic being investigated.

Lead-user survey:
Surveys that involve obtaining information from the lead-user of the technology.

Secondary data

Primary data

Data collected for some purpose other than the problem at hand.

Data organised by the researcher to address the research problem.

Qualitive Research and Exploratory Research
An unstructured, exploratory research methodology based on small samples intended to provide insight and understanding of the problem setting.

Pilot Survey:
Survey that tend to be less structured than large-scale surveys in that they generally contain more open-ended questions and the sample size is much smaller.

Case Studies:
Involve an intensive examination of a few selected vases of the phenomenon of interest. Cases could be customers, stores or other units.

Environmental Context of the Problem
Factors that have an impact on the definition of the marketing research problem, including past information and forecast, resources and constraints of the firm, objectives of the decision maker, buyer behaviour, legal environment, economic environment, and marketing and technological skills of the firm.
Past Information & Forecast
Forecast trends in regards to: Sales, market share, probability, technology, population, demographics, and lifestyle are combined to give the researcher with a fuller picture of the underlying marketing research problem. The firm’s performance relative to the market should be analysed
Resources & Constraints
Money, research skills, and operational capabilities, as well as a operational and time constraints.
The researcher must have a clear understanding of two types of objectives:
1) The organisational objectives (the goals of the organisation.
2) The personal goals (the goals of the decision maker)
Buyer Behaviour
A body of knowledge that tries to understand and predict consumers’ reactions based on an individual’s specific characteristics.

Includes the underlying motives, perceptions, attitudes, buying habits, and demographic and psycho-graphic profiles of buyers and potential buyers.

Legal Environment
Includes: Public policies, laws, government agencies, and pressure groups that influence and regulate various organisations and individuals in society. Importants areas of laws include: Patents, trademarks, royalties, trade agreements, taxes and tariffs.
Economic Environment
Composed of: Purchasing power, gross income, disposable income, discretionary income, prices, savings, credit availability, and general economic conditions.
Management-Decision Problem v Marketing Research Problem
Decision Problem:
Asks what the decision maker needs to do
Action orientated
Focuses of symptoms

Management Problem:
Asks what information is needed and how it should be obtained
Information orientated
Focuses on the underlying causes

Conceptual map
A way to link the broad statement of the marketing research problem with the management decision problem: eg
Management wants to (take an action)
Therefore, we should stud (topic)
So that we can explain (question)
Defining Market Research Problem
Broad statement which is then broken down into components.
Objective Evidence + Theory
Objective evidence:
Unbiased evidence that is supported by empirical findings.

A conceptual scheme based on foundational statements, that are assumed to be true.

Analytical Models:
Verbal model
Graphical model
Mathematical model
Represents and explains the relationship between variables.
Written representation of the relationship.
Visual picture of the relationship.
Explicitly describes a relationship in equation form.
Research Question
Refined statements of the specific components of the problem.
An unproven statement or proposition about a factor or phenomenon that is of interest to the researcher. A tentative statement about relationships.