The market research as a branch of empirical economic and social research can refer to different areas and are therefore defined as:
- the systematic collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of data about markets and market influencing possibilities for the purpose of obtaining information for marketing decisions or
- the complete process of solving market-related business problems (where “ market ” usually means a sales market , while trade marketing uses four more appropriate markets as analysis objects) by analyzing information about the relevant market, its relevant participants and their attitudes or
- a continuous, systematic, objective process based on scientific methods that observes market developments and the company environment in order to obtain and analyze information. This is done for the purpose of finding or securing marketing decisions.
Market research is one of the most important tools in marketing . However, it also provides decision-making aids for other corporate areas such as controlling , sales , procurement , personnel deployment or business intelligence . Market research is a means of obtaining information about the relevant sales market or the sales markets of a company. For this purpose, the data are systematically and predominantly determined using scientific methods. Effective market research is an important factor when it comes to developing a successful sales strategy for a company and thus increasing sales and - ideally - company profits.
See also: opinion polls
Market research objectives
The goals of market research are
- Early and timely identification of trends , opportunities and risks in the markets relevant to the company
- Limiting the risk of wrong decisions ("flop minimization"), increasing the success of new product launches
- Support for decision-making within the company, strategy development for marketing and sales
- the improvement of the level of information relevant to the decision-makers with regard to the following aspects:
- Fashion trends
- Desire for pleasure
Central areas of knowledge of market research
Based on the goals of market research , market research has various subject areas in relation to which it can make research-based statements:
- General market characteristics and market developments
- Customer segments
- Customer behavior and needs
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Acceptance of new product developments
- Buying motives, consumer motivation (consumer insights)
- Effect of advertising material
- Competition observation, competition analysis
- Market position
Quality criteria for market research
Just like any other research, market research has to meet certain criteria that are closely linked to the scientific method:
- Objectivity (independence): independence of the results of the test procedure from the person carrying out the test (with regard to execution, evaluation and interpretation)
- Reliability (formal accuracy): absence of random errors in the experimental procedure
- Validity (conceptual correctness): Validity of the results found - the most important quality criterion ("To what extent has exactly been recorded what should actually be examined?")
- Representativeness (meaningfulness): results of a sample may only deviate from the true value of the population with a certain probability of error (generalizability)
Process of a market research project
- Formulation of the problem
- Determination of the study design
- Determination of the sources of information
- Determination of the implementer
- Determination of the data collection method
- Selection of the sample
- Design of the survey instrument
- Implementation of data collection
- Editing and coding of the data
- Analysis and interpretation of the data
- Presentation of the research results
This basically corresponds to the process of social science studies. A special task is consulting and implementation , which is not part of market research, but which is offered as a service by many market research institutes.
Classification of market research
Based on the survey objective, market research can be divided into quantitative and qualitative market research.
- Quantitative market research: The aim is to find numerical values about the market. If only actual, objective findings are determined, one speaks of ecoscopy in contrast to demoscopy , which determines opinions and attitudes to certain questions (i.e. wishes, fears, plans, etc.) and processes them quantitatively and statistically.
- Qualitative market research: The aim is, e.g. B. Determine motives for certain behavior in the market as well as expectations and attitudes (psychological market research). Opinion and motivation research is to be seen as the most important market research process that uses psychological safeguards (e.g. through indirect questions, exclusion of suggestive questions , distractions and control questions).
In addition to industry-specific market research, which some market research institutes specialize in, there is a rough category in contrast to the dominant consumer goods market research, capital goods market research or industrial market research . For some years now, the term business-to-business market research or B2B market research has become established in Germany . The methods and case numbers differ in some cases very strongly from consumer goods market research. Depending on the industry, a few companies often represent the majority of the market, so that full surveys or highly representative surveys can be carried out with a small sample.
Methods of market research
Primary market research
The primary market research gains similar to the primary research their findings from the initial and direct examination of market participants ( field research , field research , primary analysis ). Like many other branches of research, it uses the methods of empirical social research . Depending on which market participants are the subject of the investigation, a distinction is made between sales market research, procurement market research, competitive market research and so-called internal market research. The latter relates (according to Schenk ) to people and processes within companies and is particularly important for stationary retail.
A broad repertoire of methods is available in the research fields of survey, observation and experiment for the procurement of primary information. A rough distinction is made between the more qualitative and the more quantitative methods. The qualitative market research methods include, for example, in- depth interviews or guided interviews , group discussions (including focus groups ), reconstructive observations and workshops. As a rule, relatively small samples of 10 to 20 cases are observed and / or questioned. The qualitative evaluation is carried out on the basis of the tape or video recordings or on the basis of the transcripts of individual explorations.
One speaks of quantitative research when larger samples are surveyed using standardized questionnaires and the results are quantitatively and statistically evaluated and z. B. in the form of tables or diagrams. The quantitative methods include, among others, representative surveys , telephone surveys as well as surveys and experimental records in test laboratories with 100 or more test persons.
In practice there is an overlap between qualitative and quantitative research. For example, surveys that are representative of the population with around 2,000 test subjects are classified as quantitative methods, but they often contain qualitative elements, for example in the form of open questions. These in turn are evaluated both qualitatively and singularly and quantitatively and statistically.
While 2,000 samples are usually required for a representative survey of opinions and attitudes to questions of national interest, companies can be satisfied with small samples depending on the industry, location, catchment area and customer structure . This is particularly relevant for market research in stationary retail. If z. B. a furniture store wants to explore image settings, purchase intentions, wishes, criticism or the like, u. U. a random sample n = 50, provided that the test persons are filtered out of those customers (and / or non-customers) who are or could be interested in the range of products offered by the furniture store. In a kind of differential analysis, averages could be formed first from the first 30 answers, then from 40 answers and finally from all answers. If the average values do not fluctuate or do not fluctuate significantly, sufficient validity of the survey result can be assumed.
The distinction between demoscopic and ecoscopic market research is also common . Demoscopic market research provides insights from surveys of market participants, subjectively shaped findings. Ecoscopic market research provides knowledge from market facts, objective findings. The party dispute that has shaped demoscopic market research for decades between proponents of exclusively statistical mass surveys and proponents of exclusively (in-depth) psychological individual interviews has been settled. Because statistical mass surveys cannot do without psychologically sound research design, and (deep) psychological interviews usually only lead to realizable findings after interviews with a large number of test subjects. Because of its largely psychological character, we are already talking about psychological market research, which can also be limited to individual economic sectors.
Psychological trade market research as a branch of trade psychology is currently relatively well developed . In-house experiments , i. E. H. Sales changes based on the variation of only one isolated factor, important information about customer reactions (acceptance, reactance, elasticity of demand, etc.). For example, the sales success of a relocation of an article on the supermarket shelf could be measured precisely by comparing the respective weekly sales before and after the relocation, if all other factors (article group, customer structure, advertising, price labeling, weather, etc.) have remained the same or comparable.
A further classification of the primary research takes place at the level of the contact with the respondent. A distinction is made here between personal (face-to-face) and non-personal interviews. The personal interviews take place either in the respondent's home (in-home), on the street (in-street) or in specially set up test studios (in-hall). Non-personal interviews include telephone surveys , written surveys (by letter), and online surveys .
The quantitative data can be analyzed with various statistical methods that are available in special statistical software such as SPSS or SAS, but also in some cases in spreadsheet programs (such as Microsoft Excel).
Another research method, particularly informative for manufacturers of consumer goods, is data collection in the context of consumer panels . A consumer panel is a large sample (often 10,000 cases or more) of consumers. They continuously log their purchases. In the past, the test subjects recorded their purchases in writing on a weekly or monthly basis and sent them to the institute responsible by letter. Today, the panel households are usually equipped with goods scanners. The goods purchased are recorded immediately after the purchase, the data are transmitted online. From the data of the consumer panels z. B. the market shares of different brands can be determined and - what is more important - the shift of market shares. With consumer panels, there are two problems that can distort the result: the so-called panel effect (preferential purchase of the listed items specified for the protocol) and the so-called panel mortality (due to the dropping out of test subjects and postponements in of the sample).
Secondary market research
The secondary market research wins their findings as in the secondary research from data already collected ( "Research at the desk" desk research , secondary analysis ) or from the analysis of already carried out market research. In many cases, the data collected is recorded directly electronically, for example via a computer cash register or online statistics that are connected to a central database . When using primary sources, the question of a suitable sample usually arises .
Sources for secondary market research can be:
- Sales statistics
- Correspondence with customers
- Complaints from customers
- Repair lists
- Inventory reports
- Price lists
- Information from the statistical offices, statistical yearbooks
- Reports from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK)
- Business reports from other companies
- Brochures, catalogs from competitors, newspapers
- Numbers of accounting
- Publications of scientific institutes etc.
In the research area of neuroeconomics , especially consumer neuroscience, interdisciplinary knowledge and theories of neuroscience are combined with market research aspects.
Market research company
Large companies usually have their own market research departments. In smaller companies, on the other hand, marketing managers (product managers) often oversee market research "on the side". Even the large companies usually do not handle the market research projects themselves. The market researchers in such companies rather work as intermediaries between their own marketing department and the market research companies or institutes commissioned to carry out the studies. Market research institutes are mostly used for market research by companies because of the methodological knowledge and experience that these institutes bring with them, as well as because of the significant cost advantages that often occur (e.g. because the market research company has its own call center ). Further advantages are the better guaranteed objectivity, the associated acceptance in science and the specific material and personnel capacities of market research companies.
According to ADM, global market research sales in 2011 amounted to just under 24.15 billion euros. In Europe, sales were 10.18 billion euros, which is around 42 percent of the world market. Within Europe, Germany and Great Britain occupy the top positions with a share of sales of 23% each and France with 19%.
In terms of global sales, the top 10 market research companies are:
- The Nielsen Company : US $ 4,575.0 worldwide sales in millions
- Kantar Group : US $ 3,616.1
- IMS Health : US $ 2,392.5
- Society for Consumer Research : US $ 1,797.2
- Ipsos Group : US $ 1,442.1
- Synovate : US $ 959.7
- IRI: US $ 725.0
- Westat Inc .: US $ 469.5
- Arbitron Inc .: US $ 368.8
- JD Power and Associates : US $ 272.2
The largest market research institutes in Germany are:
- Society for Consumer Research (GfK SE)
- TNS Infratest
- Maritz Research
- Psyma Group AG
- Kleffmann Group
- GIM Heidelberg
- LDB group
- infas Holding
Updated source: Research & Results 2018
The largest market research institutes in Austria are:
- The Austrian Gallup Institute
- GFK Austria
- Market Institute
- Karmasin motivational research
- IFES - Institute for Empirical Social Research
- IMAS International
- OGM - Austrian Society for Marketing
- TNS Info Research Austria
- Integral market and opinion research
- Interconnection Consulting
The largest and best-known market research institutes in Switzerland are:
Market and social research associations
Market and opinion research is organized internationally and in Germany in associations. These represent the companies, institutes and people who conduct market and social research in Germany. They define binding professional law and quality guidelines and, in particular, stand up for the rights of respondents. This includes the right to anonymity, which market research always guarantees. Together with the Council of German Market Research , the German associations also operate a complaints office that anyone can turn to if their respondent's rights have been violated.
The relevant associations are:
- ADM - Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Marktforschungsinstitute eV
- BVM - Professional Association of German Market and Social Researchers eV
- DGOF - German Society for Online Research eV
- ASI - Working Group of Social Science Institutes
- ESOMAR - International Market Research Association
- Association of market researchers in Austria
- Alliance of International Market Research Institutes
- GfK Association
- Association of Swiss Market and Social Research
- Klaus Backhaus among others: Multivariate analysis methods . Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-85044-1 .
- Gilbert A. Churchill Jr .: Marketing Research. Methodological Foundations. 6th edition. Dryden, Fort Worth (Texas, USA) et al. 1995, ISBN 0-03-098366-5 .
- Ludwig Fahrmeir , Alfred Hamerle, Gerhard Tutz (ed.): Multivariate statistical methods . New York 1996.
- Richard Geml, Hermann Lauer: Marketing and Sales Lexicon. 4th edition. Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-7910-2798-2 .
- Joachim Hartung , Bärbel Elpelt: Multivariate Statistics . Munich / Vienna 1999.
- Hans-Otto Schenk: Psychology in Commerce. Decision-making bases for retail marketing, 2nd edition. Munich / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58379-3 (with an instructive chapter on psychological retail market research)
- Axel Theobald, Marcus Dreyer, Thomas Starsetzki: Online market research. Gabler Verlag / GWV Fachverlage, 2003.
- Gerhard Merk: Scientific market research. Berlin 1962, ISBN 3-428-01022-1 (establishes market research as an independent science in the canon of economics)
- Christian Homburg , Harley Krohmer : Marketing Management: Strategy - Instruments - Implementation - Corporate Management. 3. Edition. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8349-1656-3 .
- Marco Ottawa, Christian Rietz: Operational market research: added value for marketing, control and strategy , De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2014, ISBN 978-3-486-74357-9
- Behrens, Karl Christian. Demoscopic market research. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 1966, p. 26.
- Christian Homburg , Harley Krohmer : Marketing Management: Strategy - Instruments - Implementation - Corporate Management. Chapter 6.1, 3rd edition. Gabler Verlag, 2009, p. 240.
- See Hans-Otto Schenk: Market research for medium-sized trading companies. In: Lower Rhine Chamber. Issue 8/1982, pp. 405f.
- Market research in numbers Working Group of German Market and Social Research Institutes (ADM)
- ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Jack Honomichel: The World's Leading Marketing Research Companies. In: marketing news. August 30, 2009 (English, PDF; 11.60 MB) )
- ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: The general development of the market research market in Germany )
- Market research in numbers
- Kathrin ter Hofte-Fankhauser, Hans F. Wälty: market research, foundations with numerous examples, Repetitionsfragen and glossary. Compendio Bildungsmedien, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-7155-9388-3 , p. 13.
- Association of Swiss Market and Social Research