Lahore School of Economics

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The Importance of Data in Marketing

Ms. Sarah Aftab in a wide-ranging session to the MBAs on the importance of data held on 30th September 2019, dwelled on both qualitative and quantitative research, and explained both their mechanics and role in management and marketing. Qualitative research focuses on the why of marketing research, and includes focus groups and ethnographic research, while quantitative research focuses on the what and how of marketing.

Sarah explained that focus groups allow in-depth discussions and exchange of ideas where a “moderator” probes and keeps on probing till he or she reaches a point where he or she things that the answers are justified. The moderator should a) be neutral b) engage everyone in the group – especially the shy ones c) be relatable to everyone (if one is speaking in Punjabi then he should also use Punjabi) and d) summarize conversation and come to a consensus.

In general, research can be of various types and conducted for various purposes. Innovation and Product Development Decisions related research can include Product Concept testing or more importantly Concept-Product test which involves researching slight variations between the product when it was launched compared to its concepts which can lead to failures. Brand and Communication Decisions research can include Usage and Attitude studies, Communication tracking and Customer segmentation. And Retailer and Shopper Decisions related research will include Shopper’s Path to Purchase and Retailer’s Opinions about Brands. One can also include here Customer and Employee Retention and Employee Satisfaction related research.

Research Analysis requires four things. First, know the objectives you are trying to address. Note that the Business Objectives are to be decided by the client: He may say that his sales are declining. Research objectives will be decided by the Agency because we have to convert or translate what he said into research language. Second, start at the end: Ask the client: At the end of the project what do you expect to do with the evidence? Third, organize the tables into sections – You need to include relevant data or required data on the basis of need and not “it would be nice to know”. And finally, read and re-read your data. Know your data well - See if the data is telling you a story.

Sarah also narrated research projects to the MBAs and helped them to identify bottlenecks by reading carefully through data. She showed actual data and asked them to interpret the curves and find out what was happening. If there was a decline in sales, where was it coming from? She helped the students learn to ask relevant questions on awareness (both aided and unaided), usage (first time, repeat) and so on.

To a question on what is needed for an MBA to join a research company Sarah said that one needs to know why one is joining a marketing research company – people apply but also apply for an HR position, for a bank job and so on. A research company has to invest a lot in the newcomer and if he or she leaves it is a big loss. She also said that for qualitative research, she needs people who can talk, interact, sit with the participants and so on. But the quantitative researchers can be more focused, though not necessarily introvert.

Sarah is a regular speaker on the MBA circuit and her research organization has an MOU with the Lahore School of Economics.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11/11/2019 12:03:00 PM,

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