Establishing Customer needs

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Surveys are one of the most common ways used to collect market research information. There are two types of surveys: A census- involves questioning every supplier or customer within a particular market. Sample- involves questioning a selection of respondents from the target market. There are a number of different ways of choosing a sample. Random sampling With this method, individuals and organisations are selected from a ‘sampling frame’, which is simply a list of all the members of the market or population to be surveyed. There are three main forms of random sampling:

1. Simple random sampling- allows the researcher to choose the size of the sample required and then to pick the sample on a purely random basis. 2. Systematic sampling- involves selecting items from the list at regular intervals after choosing a random starting point. 3. Stratified random sampling- it weights the sample on the basis of the importance of each group of customers in the market Cluster sampling  With this method, the population/customers are divided into small areas but, instead of sampling from a random selection of these areas, sampling is carried out in few areas that are considered to be typical of the market in question.

Quota sampling With quota sampling interviews are given instructions as to the number of people to interview with certain characteristics. Convenience sampling This involves gathering information from anyone available for the interviewer to survey, no matter what his or her background. Judgement sampling This involves the interviewer selecting respondents using his or her own judgement that they seemed to be, and looked representative of, the group of customers in the market being researched.

Pilots A pilot ‘is a small scale experiment which is undertaken before something is introduced on a large scale’. A pilot is useful in identifying any major problems with the questionnaire. It will also include whether the questionnaire will meet the research objectives. Field trials Selected consumers may be asked to test a product prior to its launch. The purpose of this is to ensure the product performs according to expectations, and it provides an opportunity for problems to be ironed out.

Secondary research Secondary marketing information can be obtained from both internal and external sources. Internal sources Internal information is information already held within the organisation, more often than not in databases. A database is a large amount of information stored in such a way that it can easily be found, processed and updated. External sources  External data exists in the form of published materials, collected by someone else. It can give a broader dimension to data previously collected.There are many business directories that provide general information about industries and markets.

Trade associations Trade associations publish information for their members concerning their particular fields, and there are associations for almost all trades. The internet The internet has rapidly become an invaluable research tool, providing a rich resource for information from a multitude of resources. Market research companies There are a number of commercial market research companies offering a range of services and selling data they acquire from a variety of sources. For example, Mintel is a commercial research organisation which, in return for a fee, provides a monthly journal containing reports on consumer markets.

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