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THE PRINCIPLES OF MARKETING RESEARCH

The Principles of Marketing Research was created in response to the educational needs expressed by the marketing research industry. It is designed to teach the core body of knowledge of marketing research (MRCBOK ©). This distance learning course is the first, and currently only, program of its kind for marketing research professionals.

MRA provided the initial funding for the development of the Principles program and established Marketing Research Institute International (MRII) to oversee its development in conjunction with the University of Georgia. MRA endorses the Principles program and continues to provide support to MRII. MRA members can enroll at a discounted rate in this comprehensive distance learning program.

For complete program details see http://principlesofmarketingresearch.org

Marketing Research Core Body of Knowledge (MRCBOK©)

The Marketing Research Core Body of Knowledge (MRCBOK©) represents the fundamental principles and essential skills that compose the marketing research process.

Basics of Marketing and Its Interface with Research

Marketing researchers need an understanding of marketing so they can communicate and work effectively with marketing professionals. Knowledge of marketing in terms of fundamental and critical functions is imperative.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define marketing as both a business function and a process.
  • Identify and define all of the major elements of marketing.
  • Explain the components of the marketing mix and product mix.
  • Define Products and services and identify the marketing elements that differentiate them
  • Explain the product life cycle.
  • Explain the need for marketing advantage and its impact on business success.
  • Explain market segmentation, market positioning, sales forecasting and market forecasting; their impact on marketing efficiencies; and their integration into the strategic market planning process.
  • Describe the various approaches to product/service pricing and discuss the development of pricing strategy.
  • Explain the relationship between marketing and marketing research in a typical business
  • Explain the difference between a consumer and an organizational buyer in terms of behavior and impact on marketing programs.
  • Discuss product accessibility, explain marketing channels, name several typical channels for both consumer products and business products, and explain what is meant by channel conflict.
  • Discuss the various ways to create customer awareness
  • Discuss how customer service and customer satisfaction affect the various elements of marketing.
  • Explain the differences and opportunities associated with domestic and international marketing.
  • Discuss the societal and ethical dimensions of marketing.
  • Describe the role of the marketing professional in the corporate environment.
  • Apply marketing concepts and practices in marketing decision-making.

Planning the Research Process

  • This defines marketing research and describes the skills required to identify the business problem, the decision alternatives, and the clientís needs, which are critical components of a research project. The marketing research professional is expected to be an expert in planning the research process, on the one hand knowing and understanding the market information needs of decision makers, and on the other hand knowing the proper processes and procedures for obtaining that information.
  • Learning Objectives:
  • Understand the needs and values of business management
  • Describe how typical businesses define marketing and management problems.
  • Describe in detail the steps in the scientific method and its relationship to marketing research.
  • Define marketing research.
  • Discuss the role of marketing research in addressing business problems.
  • Explain how management objectives are related to research objectives and explain the role of the marketing research professional in merging and managing these objectives.
  • Be able to differentiate causes from effects when addressing business problems.
  • Be able to develop working hypotheses about typical marketing problems.
  • Determine the appropriate level and depth of information required for decision-making and differentiate "nice-to-know" information from "need-to-know" information.
  • Relate research results to action standards for management.
  • Set requirements for tracking research projects through key decision stages.
  • Describe the process for determining the value of information and describe the cost/time/value trade-offs that process implies.
  • Describe methods for determining the costs of marketing research studies.
  • Identify the major steps in creating a research proposal.
  • Describe the ethical standards and considerations a professional marketing researcher practices in the business environment.
  • Describe the major federal regulations that have an impact on the practice of marketing research.

Research Design

The design of the research project is a creative plan to obtain the necessary information in the best way possible. The correct design will save time and money and will result in valid and reliable information. The marketing research professional is expected to be an expert in this area, having the technical knowledge to design research projects that will provide a wide variety of marketing information to key decision makers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define research design and classify various research designs.
  • Explain the differences between exploratory and conclusive research designs.
  • Explain the differences between primary research and secondary research.
  • Identify typical sources of secondary information.
  • Outline a secondary information search project and the procedures that will be used.
  • Identify appropriate sources for primary information.
  • Describe the various methods for obtaining primary research.
  • Identify and explain the sources of error in a research design.
  • Define and discuss the issues of research reliability and validity and explain the typical methods used to address these issues.
  • Select appropriate research designs for various research objectives.

Sampling

An integral part of research design is the general approach to selecting data sources. Ensuring that data will meet design standards and be projectable is critical. Sample planning and sampling methodology are key skills of the marketing research professional.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the differences between a probability and a non-probability sample and discuss the appropriateness of each.
  • Describe a stratified sample and explain why and how it is used.
  • Identify the errors associated with sampling.
  • Identify and discuss the factors affecting the quality of a sample.
  • Demonstrate how to compute the sample size required to achieve a desired level of precision.
  • Evaluate sample adequacy and describe how to correct various types of sample inadequacies.
  • Describe the issues to consider when designing a sampling plan.
  • For various research projects, select a sampling strategy and write a sampling plan.
  • Describe several sources of different types of sample - RDD, listed consumer, listed business, targeted consumer.

Data Collection Methods

The procedures and devices used to obtain primary data vary depending on the sampling and measurement requirements. Data collection is a key part of the research plan and often represents the biggest cost of primary research. Data collection methods need to be mastered by the professional marketing researcher.

Learning Objectives:

  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative research.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of commonly-used qualitative research techniques.
  • Describe the pros and cons of direct questioning, observation and in-market experiments.
  • Demonstrate how to construct an observational research project.
  • Discuss how to set up and conduct an in-market experiment.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of using surveys to obtain market information.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the three basic methods of direct questioning as well as combination methods (e.g., Phone-mail, phone-disk, etc.).
  • Describe the uses and the advantages and disadvantages of diary panels, store audits, electronic data generators in marketing research.
  • Describe the basic approaches and methods for merging data from different sources.

Measurement Instruments

In order to measure and predict human behavior and thought processes accurately, measuring instruments must be constructed with care. In North America, much marketing research information is collected with surveys designed to measure the actions and thought of buyers and potential buyers. These questionnaires are often created to address the specific requirements of the researchers. Consequently, constructing questionnaires and other measurement instruments is an important, continuous activity of the marketing research professional.

  • Learning Objectives:
  • Explain the purpose of a questionnaire as a measurement instrument.
  • Describe the process of designing a questionnaire, the steps involved, and guidelines which much be followed at each step.
  • Describe the design of observational forms and other measurement instruments.
  • Identify the major design differences between phone, mail, and personal interview questionnaires.
  • Describe the various ways to measure buyer activities and thought processes - scales, ratings, rankings - and differentiate the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Discuss the appropriateness of the various data collection methods for addressing different populations and different measurement tasks.
  • Describe the proper design and use of concept boards, videos, and other visual aids in surveys.
  • Describe the design and proper use of computerized data collection instruments and distinguish between computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) and computer-assisted personal interviews.
  • Discuss variations in measurement instruments that are influenced by cultural and country-of-origin differences

Data Collection Skills

In the course of implementing surveys, panels, audits, etc., it is necessary to overcome the barriers inherent in obtaining primary data about buyer behavior and buyer thought processes. All of the professional and technical skills taught so far are of little use if the data are collected incorrectly or the respondents fail to cooperate with the data collection process. Professional data collection skills minimize sources of error, delay and falsification of data.

  • Learning Objectives:
  • Explain in detail the main elements of the data collection plan.
  • Describe the main considerations for training data and collection professionals.
  • Differentiate between individual and group interviews, describe the strengths and weaknesses of each, and describe the typical uses of both types of interviews.
  • Understand and describe the processes and procedures for improving response rates.
  • Identify sources of non-sampling error in the data collection process.
  • Describe the processes for minimizing non-sampling error in the data collection process.
  • Describe when pre-coding questionnaires is appropriate and explain the process for pre-coding questionnaires.
  • Explain the purpose of the interviewer briefing and explain in detail the elements that go into a proper interviewer briefing.
  • Discuss the various interviewing procedures and standards for different interviewing techniques.
  • Describe the verbal and non-verbal skills required to control the interviewing process (rapport, verbatim delivery, pronunciation and grammatical correctness, clarifying and probing, recording, neutrality, and handling difficult respondents).
  • Describe the questioning and recording techniques relevant to specific types of questions (open-ended, closed-ended, verbal and numerical scales, constant sum allocations, etc.).
  • Describe in detail the supervisory control mechanisms used to manage and control the interviewing process and describe their appropriateness for various types of interviews.
  • Describe the ethical considerations that govern interviews.
  • Describe the various data entry procedures (key entry, OMR scanner, OCR scanner, etc.) And the proper controls for each.
  • Describe the procedures to code open-ended questions and the various methods for assuring accurate coding.
  • Describe the processes and procedures for improving respondent cooperation and minimizing respondent abuse.

Data Analysis

Marketing research data analysis is a blend of statistics, psychology, information technology and art. The professional marketing researcher is not expected to have a complete understanding of all the techniques of data analysis, but is expected to manage the blending of these disciplines in order to develop and organize a complete analysis of the data that satisfies the information requirements of the project.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the main elements of a data analysis plan.
  • Describe the procedure for selecting a data analysis strategy and the factors influencing the process.
  • Explain the data preparation process and the methods used to prepare raw data for analysis.
  • Describe proper methods used to treat missing responses: neutral value substitution, imputed response, casewise deletion, pairwise deletion.
  • State the reasons for, and methods of, statistically adjusting data: weighting, variable respecification, and scale transformation.
  • Explain and discuss the frequencies procedure and the use of cross tabulations.
  • Name and explain the correct procedures for calculating descriptive and summary statistics for the various types of data (ratio, interval, ordinal, nominal).
  • Describe in detail hypothesis testing and statistical inference.
  • Discuss the difference between statistical significance and managerial significance and explain the factors that have an impact on statistical significance.
  • Describe common univariate and bivariate statistical tests used in marketing research and explain when they are appropriate and when they are not.
  • Understand the differences between Type I error and Type II error and their impact on managerial decisions.
  • Explain correlation and partial correlation and their relationship to causality.
  • Explain the differences between dependency and interdependency data analysis assumptions.
  • Explain the major multivariate data analysis procedures common in marketing research and their typical uses: regression, discriminant, analysis of variance (ANOVA), factor, cluster, multidimensional scaling (MDS), etc.
  • Explain the uses of conjunct analysis in marketing research.
  • Identify the major computer programs in current use in marketing research for the analysis of data.

Communicating Research Results

Communication is a key skill of marketers and must also be a key skill of effective marketing researchers. The marketing research professional who understands managerial decision-making and can design good research also needs to possess effective communication skills to ensure the research has the proper influence.

Learning Objectives:

  • Name and discuss the principal elements of effective oral and written communications.
  • Describe and discuss the transitions from analysis of data, to the formation of information, to the development of conclusions, and the development of recommendations from research.
  • Give examples of effective oral presentations.
  • Give examples of actionable, business-oriented recommendations, and contrast those with examples that are not actionable or business-oriented.
  • Contrast the differences between presenting facts and opinions and how each should be handled in a research presentation.
  • Describe the role of graphics in business presentations, explain the typical types of graphs used in marketing research presentations, and discuss the appropriate use of each type of graph.
  • Describe effective ways to present complex statistics to business people who are not statistically oriented.
  • Describe the role of the marketing research professional as a consultant and his or her role in becoming the center of marketing information within the organization.

Research Management

During their careers, professional marketing researchers may have management responsibilities for other researchers or for a business unitís information needs. This applies to positions in marketing research firms or in organizations that purchase research. The marketing research manager must effectively manage the research process and the people who carry out those processes. This module focuses on managing the research function within a client organization, including issues faced by buyers of research. These are of direct significance to those who move into client-side research management and to those managers at research companies who must understand the issues being grappled with by their clients.

Learning Objectives:
  • Identify and discuss the main considerations for managing a professional research staff.
  • Discuss the elements of effective client management.
  • Discuss methods for persuading senior managers to support quality research.
  • Describe the typical procedures for building and controlling research department budgets.
  • Describe the typical procedures for controlling a research project and building and controlling the project budget.
  • Describe the main trade-offs to be considered when deciding to do research with internal resources or buying research from an independent research firm.
  • Describe the main considerations in selecting and managing independent research firms.
  • Discuss the main considerations for implementing a research quality management program within both a corporation which purchases marketing research and a firm that provides marketing research services.
  • Describe alternative ways in which the marketing research function is organized and the alternative reporting relationships between marketing research and other departments in the corporate environment.
  • Describe in detail the ethical and legal constraints and considerations in conducting marketing research in North America.

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