Longitudinal Data in Marketing Research: Purposes & Uses

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  • 0:03 The Long View
  • 1:00 Marketing Uses
  • 2:15 Longitudinal Study Challenges
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

When you take a one-time survey, that's point-in-time data (a snapshot). Longitudinal studies gather data over time and can offer a different perspective. In this lesson, we'll examine why researchers use longitudinal studies.

The Long View

When you take a picture of someone, you capture a moment in time. If you come back and take a picture of them a year later, there will likely be noticeable changes. The same thing can occur when asking someone's opinion on a product or service. Today it can be one thing, tomorrow it might be entirely different.

A longitudinal study collects data from the same subjects over a period of time. An initial baseline gathering of data is done to give the researchers a starting point for comparison. Then the same subjects are surveyed at least one more time. The time period spanned can be weeks, months or even years; this allows for some flexibility or a shift in focus if necessary. Data is compared across the different collection points to gauge changes over time and to study what caused the changes. The results can be very valuable in documenting changes in attitudes, perception, and behavior.

Marketing Uses

A tracking study, a mechanism used to measure the changing view of consumers over a period of time, is a type of longitudinal study used in marketing. Tracking studies can be used for:

  • Measuring brand awareness
  • Tracking customer satisfaction
  • Measuring consumer opinions on a new product
  • Analyzing the impact of an advertising campaign

Setting up a tracking study involves deciding exactly what consumer information you need and finding an appropriately sized group. The group would fill out a detailed questionnaire in the beginning and would be asked the same questions again at a later point.

To help ensure the best results, the time frame for usage responses should match the purchase cycle of the products. For example, for something like snack foods, you'd need to survey people right after purchase. For washing machines, you could wait a little longer because the size of the purchase makes the details more memorable.

If your goal was to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign and the views of the group changed in a positive direction, your campaign would be considered a success. If not, or if there was no significant effect, your marketing campaign might have been a dud. You can take what you've learned and make changes to enhance future efforts.

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