In addition to discussions with the DM, interviews with industry experts, individuals knowledgeable about the finn and the industry, may help formulate the marketing research problern.? These experts may be found both inside and outside the finn. If the notion of experts is broadened to include people very knowledgeable about the general topic being investigated, then these interviews are also referred to as an experience-surveyor the key-informant technique. Another variation of this in a technological context is the lead-user survey that involves obtaining information from the lead users of the technology. Typically, expert information is obtained by unstructured personal interviews, without administering a fonnaI questionnaire. It is helpful, however, to prepare a list of topics to be covered during the interview. The order in which these topics are covered and the questions to ask should not be predetermined but decided as the interview progresses. This allows greater flexibility in capturing the insights of the experts. The purpose of interviewing experts is to help define the marketing research problem rather than to develop a conclusive solution. Unfortunately, two potential difficulties may arise when seeking from experts:
1. Some individuals who claim to be knowledgeable and are eager to participate may not really possess expertise.
For these reasons, interviews with experts are more useful in conducting marketing research for industrial firms and for products of a technical nature, where it is relatively easy to identify and approach the experts. This method is also helpful in situations where little information is available from other sources, as in the case of radically new products. The Internet can be searched to find industry experts outside of the client’s organization. By going to industry sites and newsgroups (e.g., groups.google.com), you can find access to many knowledgeable industry experts. You could also do searches on the topic at hand and follow up on any postings or FAQs. Experts can provide valuable insights in modifying or repositioning existing products, as illustrated by the repositioning of Diet Cherry Coke
Cherry Picking: The Repositioning of Diet Cherry Coke
As of 2009, Coca-Cola is still the world’s leading manufacturer, marketer. and distributor of nonalcoholic beverages to 1,J10rtehan 200 countries, with more than 2,800 beverage products. Sales of Diet Cherry Coke had been languishing, however, down from more than g million cases sold in the peak years. Coke system bottlers had begun to cut back distribution of Diet Cherry Coke. Faced with this issue, Coca-Cola had to determine the cause of such a decline in sales. When industry experts were consulted, the real problem was identified: Diet Cherry Coke was not positioned correctly. These experts emphasized that brand image was a key factor influencing soft drink-sales, and Diet Cherry Coke was perceived as conventional and old-fashioned, an image inconsistent, with that of Cherry Coke. Hence. t”e marketing research problem was identified as measuring the image and positioning of Diet Cherry.Coke. The research undertaken can finned the diagnosis of the industry experts and provided several useful insight
The Diet Cherry Coke example points to the key role of industry experts. However. information obtained from the OM and the industry experts should be supplemented with the available secondary data.
Secondary Data Analysis
Secondary data are data collected for some purpose other than the problem at hand. Primary data. on the other hand. are originated by the researcher for the specific purpose of addressing the research problem. Secondary data include information made available by business and government sources. commercial marketing research firms. and computerized databases. Secondary data are an economical and quick source of background information. Analysis of
available secondary data is an essential step in the problem definition process: Primary data should not be collected until the available secondary data have been fully analyzed. Given the tremendous importance of secondary data. this topic will be discussed in detail in Chapter 4, which also further discusses the differences between secondary and primary data. I! is often helpful to supplement secondary data analysis with qualitative research
Information obtained from the OM. industry experts. and secondary data may not be sufficient to define the research problem. Sometimes qualitative research must be undertaken to gain an understanding of the problem and its underlying factors. Qualitative research is unstructured, exploratory in nature. based on small samples. and may utilize popular qualitative techniques such as focus groups (group interviews). word association (asking respondents to indicate their first responses to stimulus words), and depth interviews (one-on-one interviews that probe the respondents’ thoughts in detail). Other exploratory research techniques, such as pilot surveys and case studies. may also be undertaken to gain insights into the phenomenon of interest. Pilot surveys 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 cases of the phenomenon of interest. The cases could be consumers. stores. firms. or a variety of other units such as markets, Web sites, and so on. The data are obtained from the company, external secondary sources. and by conducting lengthy unstructured interviews with people knowledgeable about the phenomenon of interest. In the department store project. valuable insights into factors affecting store patronage were obtained in a case study comparing the five best stores with the five worst stores.
P&G’s Peep into Privacy
P&G, the maker of Tide laundry detergent, Pampers diapers, and Crest toothpaste. is sending video crews and cameras into about 80 households around the world, hoping to capture, on tape, life ‘s daily routines and procedures in all their boring glory. P&G thinks the exercise will yield a mountain of priceless insights into consumer behavior that more traditional methods-focus groups, interviews. home visits=-may have missed. People tend to have selective memories when talking to a market researcher. They might say. for example, that they brush their teeth every morning or indulge in just a few potato chips when in fact they often forget to brush and eat the whole bag.
The insights gained from qualitative research, along with discussions with decision makers, interviews with industry experts, and secondary data analysis, help the researcher to understand the environmental context of the problem.