Determining Methodologies to Develop Marketing Research Designs

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  • 0:03 A Market Research…
  • 0:40 Types of Research…
  • 2:10 Methodology to Select a Design
  • 3:17 Census, Populations & Samples
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

It is critical for market researchers to demonstrate that their research design actually reflects an answer to the research question. This lesson will explore the methodology for determining the best market research design.

A Market Research Design Challenge

Take a drive through the countryside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and you might see a black horse-drawn carriage plodding down the road. This non-motorized transportation (and a general prohibition against most modern amenities) is a hallmark of the Amish community. This community is well known for its production of high-quality wood furniture — all made by hand, of course. If your market research firm were commissioned to perform market research related to pricing and selling this furniture, you would have some important things to consider before selecting a study design.

The Amish are well known for their high-quality furniture. Market research in a population that prohibits modern electronics creates an interesting research challenge.
Amish Roadside Market

Types of Research Study Designs

For the purposes of demonstrating the methods used to select a research design, let's imagine that the Amish have not raised their furniture prices in three years and your firm is going to perform market research in an effort to determine an optimal price. Before making any decisions about research design, you must determine the level of precision required to address this question. If the question is relatively simple and evaluates only one attribute or variable, a non-experimental design is appropriate. On the other hand, if the answer to the research question cannot be obtained without complex statistical analysis, an experimental model must be used. Experimental models evaluate one or more variables and are subject to a high standard of precision and accuracy.

Non-experimental designs can demonstrate a correlation, but they cannot establish a definitive cause. Correlations are simply events that are observed to have some relationship, but cause is the establishment that variable A directly affects variable B. In our Amish furniture example, a correlation might be an observation that people with two or more cats are less likely to buy Amish furniture, while virtually all Amish furniture is purchased by people who own a car. These are correlations, but certainly not causes. In an experimental design, it is incumbent on the researchers to report such correlations only when they are actionable.

Methodology to Select a Design

The most important element of study design is the research question. An appropriate methodology begins by developing a solid research question, and it ends when the study design has been fully executed and provides an answer to the initial question. Additionally, the methodology must produce a report that is easily understood and actionable for the company that commissioned the research. In the Amish furniture example, the researcher would need to consider the average education level of the audience (eighth grade); that results cannot be presented via computer or projector; and that communication will not be done via email or other electronic communication.

Another consideration in design selection is whether the respondents will tolerate the degree of inconvenience required to collect the data and whether they have the data readily available. The design must allow for the chosen collection method without undue hardship.

Although modern communication methods like email or databases will not be part of the equation, selling this handmade furniture still requires market research.

In the Amish furniture example, there is limited intrusion on the business; the design methodology must account for a significant cost associated with communication because no electronic communications will be available to those collecting the data.

Census, Populations, & Samples

Attention also must be paid to the source of the data. In the context of data gathering, a researcher may consider collecting data from a census and population, or from a carefully selected sample of the population. A census is every event that occurs in a group (population). On the other hand, a --sample is a group that is usually far smaller than the whole population.

Using a small sample is the most common practice, and it is essential to choose a representative sample. In the market research for Amish furniture, the design selection would choose a sample rather than a population, largely because collecting a response from every consumer would not be feasible.

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