Research is one of the most significant processes in marketing. The most successful products and services in the marketplace gain prominence because of extensive studies and analysis. Market research is critical as it assists organizations in determining and accurately anticipating the needs and wants of the consumers. Moreover, a conducting a study on the clients and products further enables a company to understand its customers, gain knowledge on its main threats including competitors, test new merchandise as well as ensure that the business sustains an upward trajectory through growth and profitability. In market research, corporate entities have the option of using primary or secondary sources of data. Despite the benefits that secondary data provides, companies opt to use primary data collection methods in most instances (Hox, 2005). The following discussion focuses on primary data collection methods with particular reference to observation and experimentation. Research is applicable in any field or practice, but this discussion centers around data collection methods in advertising.
Primary Data Collection
Primary data is also known as raw data because it is obtained directly from the various sources such as the participants who answer a questionnaire or respondents to survey questions. Secondly, primary data is not processed, which implies that it is in its raw form. Raw data must be processed through various analysis techniques to obtain relevant information. There are multiple procedures of collecting primary data including the use of questionnaires, interviews, observations, and experimentations. Observation refers to the process of viewing and recording data and recording the same for further processing: the researcher must rely on his or her observation skills. Experimentation, on the other hand, involves the scientific process of selectively sourcing subjects that fit specific criteria. The respondents should be representative of the entire demographic such that all races and genders in the form of a sample size that represents the society. Scientific experiments range from tests, question and answer sessions or other approaches (Wilcox, 2012). For example, food manufacturers collect random individuals to taste their products and offer comments or suggestions on the same. The company may opt to change the product based on the results of the survey.
Ethics in Market Research
Ethics is important in market research as persons involved in the research process from the researcher to the subjects have a set of obligations and rights. Failure to apply ethics in market research methods various lines are crossed resulting in conflict due to the violation of stakeholder’s rights. In a scenario whereby an organization fails to apply ethics in market research especially in regards to observation and primary data collection, companies are at risk of facing severe repercussions both legally and socially.
Importance of Ethics in Market Research
On many occasions, organizations collect private and sensitive information of people who agree to be participants. The release of such personal and delicate data to the public could be harmful to the subjects, and it is a violation of their privacy. Moreover, it is apparent that as the increase in market research occurs, companies will keep collecting user information and using it to develop products and services with or without the people’s consent thus the need to practice ethics in the process. Invading customer privacy is a significant risk that companies soon discover is not worth taking. The failure to apply moral standards by violating the right of privacy of consumers can result in legal action and fines of up to millions of dollars. Besides, the reputation of a corporation can be tarnished on a permanent basis such that it will be impossible for the firm to recover from its lousy image (Olsen, 2012).Therefore, the society may decline to participate in the market research due to the risk of private information being released to the public.
As previously stated, each of the stakeholders has obligations and rights that need to be stipulated at the beginning of the market study process. The liberties and duties are critical as they outline the rules and regulations involved in the market research. Therefore, it is vital for all parties to pay attention to the moral aspect of meeting the obligations and rights. Ethics is critical to market research especially in a case where the manufactures require subjects to test their products. It is essential that the companies disclose the consequences of testing the products and services prior to the execution of the experiment. Failure to disclose the physical, mental, emotional, and health effects of products and services during market research could result in legal action(Olsen, 2012). Furthermore, sharing information about the merchandise and consequences of the study is stipulated as one of the obligations of the researchers.
Once an organization has carried out market research and the management wishes to broadcast the results to the public, they are required to be ethical and present accurate results by avoiding any form of deceptive practices. Misrepresentation of research findings is unethical and criminal as it is aimed at misleading the consumers. As the popularity of the market research practice has grown, it has become so significant that organizations must ensure that they announce to the public that they collect customer information(Olsen, 2012). Deceiving customers and collecting information without their knowledge is unscrupulous and could have major repercussions for the guilty party.
In the past few decades, major companies have found themselves in the headlines for failure to apply ethics in market research. For instance, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook were both found to be unethical in a variety of market research practices such as collecting consumer information without their knowledge, failure to secure private information, and distribution of private data. As a result, Facebook’s image was tainted, and the market value of the corporation’s stocks dropped significantly in a matter of weeks(Olsen, 2012). The events are an illustration of the importance of applying integrity in market research as well as the consequences of failing to enforce ethics.
Marketing and Psychology
Marketers strongly rely on the psychology of individuals as a tool to convince customers to purchase one item as opposed to another. Therefore, a majority of marketing strategies revolve around human psychology. Organizations invest in marketing strategies as they are critical in illustrating and deciphering human patterns developed as a result of human psychology. It is important to note that marketing and psychology are directly related (Flick, 2018).As a result, marketing research would be ineffective if its application and design was independent of the understanding of human psychology.
Problems in Market Research
One of the most significant issues concerning market research is how to apply ethics and still accomplish organizational goals and objectives. It is apparent that companies require the research subjects, to be honest, and not to withhold any information that may be of relevance to the research. In some cases, subjects fail to meet their obligations, making it a significant challenge for the organization to achieve its goals. On the other hand, they lack adequate information on how to address a wide variety of issues present in market research. It is critical to note that data collection is one of the first and crucial stages of market research because the statistics must then be refined to make conclusions as well as present a solution to an issue that the researcher hopes to solve.
Moreover, primary data collection requires the organization to rely on the feedback of others involved in the research process. Therefore, it becomes very challenging for an organization to meet its objectives and undertake primary data collection activities if they are unable to acquire suitable subjects or sources of the data required. It is critical that organizations are able to create a balance between the sources of data, obligations and rights, ethics and organizational goals(Hari, 2017). Market research is a risk on its own as the sources could be deceptive, thus providing false data. In light of all the numerous challenges present in primary data collection, organizations need to invest in risk management plans as an adequate response to the difficulties, which may affect the research process.
In conclusion, it is apparent that primary data collection practices are sophisticated and can be hindered by a wide variety of challenges when it comes to observation and experimentation. Despite the possible challenges, an organization must meet its obligation to the public by applying ethical measures. Moreover, the researcher must learn to effectively utilize human psychology as a tool in market research and data collection. To increase the chances of success in the market study undertaking, the scientist or market analyst must invest in a proper marketing plan.
Flick, U. (2018). Triangulation in Data Collection. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection, 527-544. doi:10.4135/9781526416070.n34
Hari, R., & Puce, A. (2017). Practicalities of Data Collection. Oxford Medicine Online. doi:10.1093/med/9780190497774.003.0006
Hox, J. J., & Boeije, H. R. (2005). Data Collection, Primary vs. Secondary. Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, 593-599. doi:10.1016/b0-12-369398-5/00041-4
Olsen, W. (2012). Data Collection: Key Debates and Methods in Social Research. doi:10.4135/9781473914230
Wilcox, A. B., Gallagher, K. D., Boden-Albala, B., & Bakken, S. R. (2012). Research Data Collection Methods. Medical Care, 50. doi:10.1097/mlr.0b013e318259c1e7