Market Research Tutorial: Setting Objectives for a Market Research Study

Okay, none of us like to set objectives. It's roughly akin to having to clean the garage when you'd rather be watching the ball game. You don't like it, but you need to do it. And this market research tutorial will nag you about it (just kidding!--sort of).

That said, hard experience suggests that setting objectives for market research can save you a lot of trouble. So, buck up and do it!

Let's put it like this--setting clear objectives for your market research project allows everyone in your organization know what answers they can, and cannot, expect the project to generate. And forewarned is forearmed. If you and the organization articulate the objectives, you minimize the likelihood of executing your project only to discover at the end that it does not answer a key management question.

Setting objectives allows you to set expectations for the results of the study, allowing for the smooth flow of your project.

Setting objectives for your market research project has another major benefit as well.

It drives your choice of methodology or methodologies. Moreover, your question set flow naturally out of your objectives. With them, you have a good head-start on writing your survey instrument.

In our experience, objective setting often gets overlooked or shunted aside in the rush to get results. Our advice is to resist such pressures and put pen to paper or, more likely, keyboard to word processor.

Well-articulated objectives are like the following:

1) Determine which brand names of [X] products are top of mind and which are purchased and how frequently among current customers and competitors' customers.

2) Determine levels of satisfaction, willingness to recommend and intent to re-purchase [X] products with us and with competitors.

3) Measure the importance of and satisfaction with specific aspects (attributes) of the purchase experience with us and with competitors.

4) Determine a demographic profile of our customers and competitors' customers.

A market research project with these objectives should provide a rich information output. Executed correctly, the project will allow management to know how satisfied by their customers and competitors' customers are overall and with specific aspects of the purchase experience. This information could then be used to identify and fix problems with the customer experiencewithin the company, to take action to increase satisfaction among current customers and what will attract competitors' customer to you. Moreover, the study would help determine additionaldemographics that competitors are exploiting and you are not, or, what additional customers you might target.

Now that you have set your objectives, it's time to look specifically at the types of market research that could be used to fulfill your information goals. So, onward..........

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