Market research is one of the varieties of marketing research that studies all aspects of customers’ preferences and needs. The purpose of market research is to gather information and design an analytical basis for making market decisions, thereby reducing the level of uncertainty associated with them (Bont & Hamersveld, 2007). The result of market research implies understanding competitors’ activities, market structure, government decisions in the field of regulation and stimulation of the market, economic trends, research of technical achievements, and many other factors that shape the business environment (McQuarrie, 2015). The significant objective of market research is to determine the capacity of the market, which allows being closer to customers and anticipating their expectations. The exploration of the capacity of the market helps to correctly assess one’s chances in this market and avoid unjustified risks and losses (McGivern, 2013). By determining a company’s market share, it is possible to build on it and formulate the future plans as it is an indicator of a company’s success.
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Two data gathering methods in terms of market research that are rather important to learn are focus groups and interviews. A focus group presents a collective interview performed by a moderator as a shared discussion on a pre-designed scenario involving typical representatives of the studied part of the target audience (McGivern, 2013). Held in the format of a group discussion, this method allows participants to freely communicate with each other and express their feelings and emotions, thus promoting the generation of new ideas, evaluation of new products or advertising, and obtaining preliminary information on the topic of interest. In its turn, an in-depth interview is a semi-structured personal interview with a respondent in a form that encourages the latter to give detailed answers to the questions asked (McQuarrie, 2015). It should also be emphasized that such interview takes place in the form of free conversation on the topic of interest to a researcher, during which he or she receives detailed information about a respondent’s reasons for actions and the attitude to various issues. Using in-depth interviews, one can get more complete information about the behavior of a person, the reasons for this behavior, and its underlying motives, which is not always possible in a focus group, where respondents exert pressure on each other, and it is difficult to determine who gave this or that answer.
The following set of questions was prepared for the interview:
- What are advantages and disadvantages of focus groups and in-depth interviews as methods of data gathering for market research?
- How to obtain the most accurate data regarding different areas of market research and how to avoid bias?
- What are the main limitations to using focus groups and in-depth interviews?
To receive more information regarding the identified market research tools, it is possible to contact my current employer, who has significant experience in market research. Namely, he was working in the mentioned area for ten years, and it would be useful to ask the above questions. It is important to stress the fact that no difficulties occurred while identifying this Subject Matter Expert (SME). In the course of the interview, the questions were answered in a rather detailed manner. Accordingly, the greatest learning is associated with the areas pointed out in questions. For example, I learned that among the shortcomings of focus groups there are possible non-representativeness (the opinions expressed by the focus group members cannot be considered the opinion of all customers) and the subjective interpretation of the results obtained. The advantages of focus groups are a maximum opportunity for the generation of new ideas as well as a variety of ways to use this method. At the same time, in-depth interviews present such challenges as expertise level and data interpretation, while completeness of information and revealing of motives compose their benefits.
The received information may be applied to the Market Simulation to understand the methods of market research that would best fit the given situation. They may also be used to studying the concept of market segmentation, as noted by Weinstein (2013). The interview provided new ideas to learn, including the one regarding the fact that it is necessary to be aware of different existing tools that may be useful to one or another market research and may vary depending on a target audience, product, and so on. However, there were no surprises. The links between this interview results and the simulation are quite evident since the information received would be useful to apply while making decisions during learning activities. Therefore, the recommendations are as follows: to learn more about the identified data collecting methods on real-life examples; identify any limitations and challenges that may occur while using them as well as the ways to eliminate them. More to the point, it seems that knowledge sharing would be useful to come up with further ideas on how to use them in Market Simulation since the review of others’ ideas would promote new opportunities.
Bont, C., & Hamersveld, M. (2007). Market research handbook. Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons.
McGivern, Y. (2013). The practice of market research: An introduction (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
McQuarrie, E. F. (2015). The market research toolbox: A concise guide for beginners (4th ed.). New York, NY: Sage Publications.
Weinstein, A. (2013). Handbook of market segmentation: Strategic targeting for business and technology firms. New York, NY: Routledge.