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Marketing research links the consumers to the marketer through collected data. Having accurate research is essential to marketing. The information collected from marketing research will be used by an assortment of practical areas of varying business and industries for a number of different reasons. Obtaining marketing research findings is one thing; however ensuring it is correct is another.

Marketing research studies are used habitually to provide certainty. However in some cases, research findings are altered or misinterpreted, thus delivering false and inaccurate data to clients and the public.  The misuse of research findings may occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes researchers purposely or willfully alter the research data to correspond with their objectives. Other times errors in findings arise because of inaccuracies, dishonesty, ignorance, biases or negligence.

Consider the following example: Levi Strauss reported that 90% of college students preferred Levis 501 jeans. However, on the list of options Levi’s were the only jeans. The survey was clearly biased in an effort to encourage college students to wear Levi’s.

Inaccurate findings can provide the public with a misconstrued understanding of a product or service and it can cause marketers to create an unsuccessful, offensive or useless marketing campaign. Industries and business can also be affected because it may cause them to make unnecessary or unprofitable decisions.

Because research information can be mistreated a number of organizations like the Canadian Marketing Association have developed an extensive list of marketing research ethics and standards of conduct. Inevitably, however unethical marketing research practices occur. Each marketing researcher must recognize their responsibilities for conducting ethical research to protect consumers, businesses and marketers best interest and their own.

Sources

A focus group is a representative group of people, from a previously selected target market, that are gathered and questioned together to provide detailed insight on a certain topic. Focus groups are an effective method of obtaining qualitative information about a general target market. This method of exploratory research allows marketing researchers to acquire opinions, ideas, beliefs and attitudes on select topics.

After observing a focus group and listening to the experiences of focus group moderators moderator (often referred to as a qualitative research consultant), I have learned several different important factors to conducting a successful focus group.

Ideally the individuals in the focus group and will meet in a comfortable room for about two hours at a time. Food and drinks are optional but can be provided to increase comfort. Recording devices should be kept on hand (i.e. a video camera, tape recorder etc.) for marketing researchers to reference later on. Additional paper, pens and pencils should be available so participants and the moderator can take notes throughout the session.

During this time an amiable moderator will guide the discussion to collect information relevant to the marketing researcher. The moderator should be friendly to the participants and should not be biased about anything to be discussed in order to obtain more realistic answers. It is important that the moderator obtains as much information as possible by asking the right questions pertaining to the topic being researched. If interesting answers should arise it is the responsibility of the moderator to explore the answer. However questions a set of questions should be researched and decided on before the actual focus group meets. Initial questions/conversation should be on topics that are easy to discuss. These ice breaker subjects allow the participants to become comfortable with the situation, the setting and the individuals around them. For example: the focus group in class first discussed exercise routines then went onto more serious topics about religion and family.

For the most part a focus group should range from 6-8 individuals. Any less than 6 and the group will lack diversity. However any more then 8 and it becomes easy for the moderator and other participants to get lost in the conversation and important viewpoints may not be heard. The students that participated in the focus group in class were roughly the same age and all of them shared one thing in common, they were all SAIT students. Although each participant was unique in their opinions, lifestyles and values many of them shared similarities (i.e. most participants were Facebook users). However variances were discovered when participants discussed reasoning to their values, lifestyles etc. (i.e. reasons the participants use Facebook ranged from maintaining long distance relationships with family and friends to using it because they were bored in class). It’s the discussion in a focus group that allows the discovery of valuable qualitative information that most other forms of research cannot find. Through the session the participants seemed rather calm. Some had more to say while other remained a silent. For that reason I noticed that the moderator made sure to directly ask them questions. By the end, each participant has contributed a significant amount to the conversation, thus obtaining a representative diversity of answers.

Like any form of marketing, there are disadvantages. Focus groups are often not representative of larger samples. This means there may be discrepancies in the observations if not enough focus groups meet. Since opinions, values, beliefs and attitudes are not measurable it can be difficult for marketing researchers to interpret the results. Lastly, focus groups can be very costly.

However, despite the downsides, I believe that focus groups (if conducted properly) can be a useful source of information. It is one of the few and easiest ways to obtain qualitative information.

Every year countless movies are made but very few actually become largely successful. Making a movie involves a lot of risks. There is not a magic procedure that establishes what makes a successful and profitable movie. However there are many contributing factors to the success of a movie. Daniel could greatly benefit by taking the time to do some research prior to buying the script. His findings could help determine the success of the movie. Since trends are changing and audience expectations vary, there would be no harm in doing research.

Some decisions that Daniel will face include:

  • The movie style. Whether or not he wants to make the movie purely for “artistic value”, a big budget style film etc. Determining this will help Daniel decide what type of audience he wants to reach and will provide a general direction for his research.
  • The actors. Daniel will need to decide whether or not to use new and talented actors that are likely to cost less or an A list actor that is likely to draw audiences to see the movie.
  • The script. If Daniel decides to take on the script, prior to the bidding war, he will need to decide whether or not he wants to take on the movie. Then he needs to determine if the movie will bring him the success he desires.
  • The location. In studio or on location will affect the budget of the film.
  • The equipment. He will also have to factor in the costs of using equipment and personnel.

Research prior to buying the script and producing the film will equip Daniel with more information about what determines the success of the movie, the audience and their behaviour. His findings will help him make more conscious decisions about the movie.

Some market research challenges and barriers Daniel will face include:

  • Research many not be conducted thoroughly. Often times marketing researchers will gather their information too quickly and fail to collect accurate results. This will cost the company time and money.
  • Marketing researchers often times only test a small number of people that doesn’t contribute to finding accurate results about a larger market. Some marketing researchers also just use simple measures to gather data, although effective sometimes research done in this manner can overlook other important information.
  • With the growing popularity of marketing research the cost has also increased. To hire a third party to conduct the research Daniel needs for his film can be costly.

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