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Is Marketing Research Always Correct?

15 January, 2016 - 09:19

To be sure, marketing research can help companies avoid making mistakes. Take Tim Hortons, a popular coffee chain in Canada, which has been expanding in the United States and internationally. Hortons recently opened some self-serve kiosks in Ireland, but the service was a flop. Why? Because cars in Ireland don’t have cup holders. Would marketing research have helped? Probably. So would a little bit of market intelligence. It would have been easy for an observer to see that trying to drive a car and hold a cup of hot coffee at the same time is difficult.

That said, we don’t want to leave you with the idea that marketing research is infallible. As we indicated at the beginning of the chapter, the process isn’t foolproof. In fact, marketing research studies have rejected a lot of good ideas. The idea for telephone answering machines was initially rejected following marketing research. So was the hit sitcom Seinfeld, a show that in 2002 TV Guide named the number-one television program of all time. In the next section of this chapter, we’ll discuss the steps related to conducting marketing research. As you will learn, many things can go wrong along the way that can affect the results of research and the conclusions drawn from it.


Many marketing problems and opportunities can be solved by gathering information from a company’s daily operations and analyzing it. Market intelligence involves gathering information on a regular, ongoing basis to stay in touch with what’s happening in the marketplace. Marketing research is what a company has to resort to if it can’t answer a question by using market intelligence, internal company data, or analytical software. Marketing research is not infallible, however.


  1. Why do companies gather market intelligence and conduct marketing research?
  2. What activities are part of market intelligence gathering?
  3. How do marketing professionals know if they have crossed a line in terms of gathering marketing intelligence?
  4. How does the time frame for conducting marketing intelligence differ from the time frame in which marketing research data is gathered?