Once a research design, appropriately controlling the total error, has been specified, the budgeting and scheduling decisions should be made. Budgeting and scheduling help to ensure that the marketing research project is completed within the available resources financial, time, personnel, and other. By specifying the time parameters within which each task should be completed and the costs of each task, the research project can be effectively managed. A useful approach for managing a project is the critical path method (CPM), which involves dividing the research project into component activities, determining the sequence of these activities, and estimating the time required for each activity. These activities and time estimates are diagrammed in the form of a network flowchart. The critical path, the series of activities whose delay will hold up the project, can then be identified. An advanced version of CPM is the program evaluation and review technique (PERT), which is a probability-based scheduling approach that recognizes and measures the uncertainty of the project completion times.23 An even more advanced scheduling technique is the graphical evaluation and review technique (GERT), in which both the completion probabilities and the activity costs can be built into a network representation.
Marketing Research Proposal
Once the research design has been formulated and budgeting and scheduling of the project accomplished, a written research proposal should be prepared. The marketing research proposal contains the essence of the project and serves as a contract between the researcher and management. The research proposal covers all phases of the marketing research process. It describes the research problem, the approach, the research design, and how the data will be collected, analyzed, and reported. It gives a cost estimate and a time schedule for completing the project. Although the format of a research proposal may vary considerably, most proposals address all steps of the marketing research process and contain the following elements.
1. Executive Summary. The proposal should begin with a summary of the major points from each of the other sections, presenting an overview of the entire proposal.
2. Background. The background to the problem, including the environmental context, should be discussed. . .
3. Problem Definition/Objectives of the Research. Normally, a statement of the problem, including the specific components, should be presented. If this statement has not been developed (as in the case of problem identification research), the objectives of the marketing research project should be clearly specified.
4. Approach to the Problem At a minimum, a review of the relevant academic and trade literature should be presented, along with some kind of an analytical model. If research questions and hypotheses have been identified, then these should be included in the proposal.
5. Research Design. The research design adopted, whether exploratory, descriptive, or causal, should be specified. Information should be provided on the following componenjs: (I) kind of information to be obtained, (2) method of administering the questionnaire (mail, telephone, personal or electronic interviews), (3) scaling techniques, (4) nature. of the questionnaire (type of questions asked, length, average interviewing time), and (5) sampling plan and sample size. 6. Fieldwork/Data Collection. The proposal should discuss how the data will be collected and who will collect it. If the fieldwork is to be subcontracted to another supplier, this should be stated. Control mechanisms to ensure the quality of data collected should be described.
7. Data Analysis. The kind of data analysis that wi\1 be conducted (simple cross-tabulations, uni variate analysis, multivariate analysis) and how the results will be interpreted should be described. .
8. Reporting. The proposal should specify whether intermediate reports will be presented and at what stages, what will be the form of the final report, and whether a formal presentation of the results will be made.
9. Cost and Time. The cost of the project and a time schedule, broken down by phases, should be presented. A CPM Dr PERT chart might be included. In large projects, a payment schedule is also worked out in advance.
10. Appendices. Any statistical or other information that is of interest only to a few people should be contained in appendices.
Preparing a research proposal has several advantages. It ensures that the researcher a.rd management agree about the nature of the project and helps sell the project to management. Because preparation of the proposal entails planning. it helps the researcher conceptualize and execute the marketing research project.
While conducting international marketing research, it is important to realize that given the environmental differences the research design appropriate for one country may not be suitable in another. Consider the. problem of determining household attitudes toward major appliances in the United States and Saudi Arabia. While conducting exploratory research in the United States, it is appropriate to conduct focus groups jointly with male and female heads of households. However, it would be inappropriate to conduct such focus groups in Saudi Arabia. Given the traditional culture, the wives are unlikely to participate freely in the presence of their husbands. It would be more useful to conduct one-on-one depth interviews, including both male and female heads of households in the sample.
There’s No Place Like Home
GK -part study to determine the new trends in European youth and culture-what matters to European teenagers, and how international marketers should approach them. Exploratory research in the form of focus groups was conducted first to identify issues that are salient to European youth. The issues identified in focus groups .” were quantified by conducting a descriptive longitudinal survey. The survey was conducted in two parts spanning 16 different European countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom
Germany Italy Spain, and France, among others.
In each country, four groups of respondents were selected; 14–16-year-old girls, 14–16-year-old boys, 17-20-year-old girls, and 17-20-year-old boys. A descriptive survey was designed and administered in personal, face-to-face settings. Given the European youth culture, it was felt that the teens would feel more comfortable and be able to provide more candid responses in a personal setting. A total of 523 young people participated. Two years later, the same people were contacted in 9 of the 16 countries, with a total of 305 people participating
The results showed that tastes and opinions of teenagers in Europe have been changing dramatically over the past few years and particularly during the last two years. It was discovered that European teens did not trust big companies. The concept of home included not only the family and actual home dwelling, but a sense of belonging and community, especially with friends. It is a symbol of coziness and warmth. The European teens did not see their families much during the week. Instead, friends filled this home function. Finally, they did put a lot of stock in a brand that has been around for a long time, feeling that if the brand has proven its existence over time, it must be good and worthy of its long stay.
The results proved very beneficial for McDonald’s in developing their international advertising aimed at this market. McDonald’s new campaign did not focus on its big-company status but localized its advertising to make it seem to be the local hamburger hangout joint for teens. Meeting up with friends at the local McDonald’s made the McDonald’s “home.” It appeared to be fun, and the teens wanted to be there. Additionally, McDonald’s focused on the longevity and stability of the brand. It will always be around as a fun place where teens can hang out with their friends and have fun for 8 low price. The campaign resulted in increased market share in the lucrative European .teenage market. As of 2009, McDonald’s derived more than 35 percent of its total sales from Europe
In many countries, particularly developing countries, consumer panels have not been developed, making it difficult to conduct descriptive longitudinal research. Likewise, in many countries the marketing support infrastructure (i.e., retailing, wholesaling, advertising, and promotional infrastructure) is lacking, making it infeasible to implement a causal design involving a field experiment. In formulating a research design, considerable effort is required
Ethics in Marketing Research
During the research design stage, not only are the concerns of the researcher and the client involved, but the rights of the respondents must also be respected. Although there usually isn’t any direct contact between the respondent and the other stakeholders (client and researcher) during research design, this is the stage when decisions with ethical ramifications, such as using hidden video or audio tape recorders, are made
The researchers must ensure that the research design utilized will provide the information needed to address the marketing research problem that has been identified. The client should have the integrity not to misrepresent the project and should describe the constraints under which the researcher must operate and not make unreasonable demands. Longitudinal research takes time. Descriptive research might require interviewing customers. If time is an issue, or if customer contact has to be restricted, the client should make these constraints known at the start of the project. Finally, the client should not take undue advantage of the research firm to solicit unfair concessions for the current project by making false promises’ of future research contracts.