An individual's ability to support messages with primary and secondary research for business communication is a much needed skill. There are some key differences between primary and secondary research and how the information can be acquired, utilized, and help create an effective message.
Supporting Your Message
Most students are thrilled to graduate college and transition into the full-time work force. What most people don't realize, though, is the skill of conducting research and writing papers does not end with graduation. In fact, an individual's ability to support messages with primary and secondary research for business communication is a much needed skill.
Tina is the marketing manager for Crazi Toys, and her boss informed her that the company needs a new advertising message to target consumers for their new toy car line. The toy cars have not been selling very well, and she needs to conduct research to find out the reason and develop an appropriate ad message to get people to buy again. Let's take a look at how Tina will use research to help support her final recommendations and message.
Secondary Data Research
Tina will first begin her research by searching for secondary data research. Secondary data research is data previously collected for any purpose other than the one at hand. Tina will start examining data such as Crazi Toys sales reports, competitive information, online consumer information and any marketing trends online about toy car popularity. This type of data is free and will save Crazi Toys time and money.
After plenty of research, Tina was not able to find the reason why consumers were not purchasing toy cars like they used to in the past. She also was not able to develop a new advertising message based on her initial research. She decided she needed primary data research in order find out the real reason Crazi Toys' car product was not selling.
Primary Data Research
The secondary research that Tina found was helpful in creating a preliminary report that has led to some additional questions. She discovered that trends show more consumers were buying car video games for kids as young as 5. Crazi Toys' toy car market was age 3-8 years old. Tina wondered if technology toys were responsible for the decline in popularity of classic toy car play.
She also found economic trends that showed that overall consumer spending has consistently decreased over the past three years due to a number of factors, including decreasing job employment and rising inflationary costs. Consumers were choosier in how they were spending their money. In the past, consumers would treat their kids to a new toy car every week. Tina needed to conduct custom, new research to support her ideas.
Primary data research is data that is observed or collected for the first time. The biggest issue with primary data is that it is very expensive because the researcher is conducting his or her own research from scratch. Tina must decide on the type of primary research she will conduct for her assignment.
One of her choices is survey research. It is when a researcher interacts with people to obtain facts, opinions and attitudes. The types of surveys include in-home personal, mall intercept, telephone, mail, and executive. Tina does not have the time to visit consumers at their home, so she has eliminated that type of survey. She also does not care for using a mail survey because most consumers throw away mail surveys, plus the time it would take to get a response would be too long.
A mall survey is a good start for Tina as she could gather a large response very quickly from intercepting people shopping and asking their opinions about the toy cars. The executive survey would also be more fitting if this was about asking professionals about a specific problem. One executive survey example would be to survey bank owners as to why small town businesses are failing.
Tina has spent time on designing a survey for her mall intercept. She has decided to use open-ended questions for the survey, which means that the interview question encourages an answer phrased in the respondent's own words. Tina wanted to know exactly why people were not purchasing toy cars. She also asked respondents what they think about when they look at a toy car.
She rejected the use of closed-ended survey questions because then the respondents would have to choose from a limited list of responses, such as 'yes' or 'no.' She did add one scaled-response question at the end of the survey. It is a closed-ended question designed to measure the intensity of a respondent's answer. She asked, 'Do you think classic toy cars are not popular with young kids anymore?' The answer selections would consist of 'strongly agree,' 'agree,' 'neutral,' 'disagree' or 'strongly disagree.'
Tina also supplemented her survey research with different primary sources to support her message. She also conducted some observational research in the toy store to figure out if there were additional circumstances for the decrease in sales. She was able to people-watch and see how the consumers bought boy toys. Again, she gained some new information that would help her create an effective message. It looked like parents wanted to buy their kids the toy cars as it made them think about their childhood, but the young kids seemed more interested in electronic toys and video games. Tina decided to take the time to do one final research study called a focus group.
A focus group is a type of personal interview where seven to ten people are randomly recruited by phone to form a group. This group is then invited to a research facility where they represent the target market and can give their opinions on a series of topics or questions. The focus group members are usually offered $50 cash to participate in the session. The group is headed up by a moderator (which would be Tina), and the session is also videotaped for further analysis. The hopes are that having a group interaction will reveal more helpful data. Tina's group was very helpful and let her create a credible report with a new advertising message for the toy car line.
There are two other methods of primary research design that Tina could have used. Ethnographic research is the study of human behavior in its natural context and involves observing behavior in a physical setting. One example would be if Tina went to visit a family and observed how they used the toy cars at home. Tina could have also conducted a detailed experiment, where she would have altered one or more variables while observing the effects on other variables (usually sales). She could have asked the store manager to run a 30% off sale one week and then the next week run a 'Buy One Get One Free' sale and see if either promotion increased toy car sales.
Tina was able to use both primary and secondary research to support her new advertising message. The secondary data research, or data previously collected for any purpose other than the one at hand, showed that she needed to utilize primary data research to get the information needed to create an effective message and save the toy car line.
Primary data research is data that is observed or collected for the first time. Focus groups, surveys, and observational research are three types of primary research. Tina was able to come to the conclusion with her research that toy cars were still very popular with parents of young boys. Her new advertising message was: 'Share a little of your childhood with a Crazi Toy Car.' The new ad message was a success, and the toy car sales increased!
Once you have completely reviewed this lesson you should be able to:
- Compare primary and secondary research
- List different types of surveys used in primary research