Considering the relatively short span of time in which marketing research has developed since the 1930s, it is quite remarkable that so sophisticated and thorough a collection of procedures and techniques should have been developed. In many respects, marketing research has advanced faster than any other specialized area in marketing management. In view of the highly specialized nature of marketing research, it is not possible in this discussion to present more than an outline of the basic procedures and techniques.
It is important for a marketing manager to be familiar with the basic procedures and techniques of marketing research. It is true that many businesspeople will never have occasion to engage personally in marketing research. However, it is quite likely that they will be faced with a need either to supervise an internal marketing research activity or to work with an outside marketing research firm. The manager who understands the research function is in a position to judge intelligently the proposals made by research specialists and to evaluate their findings and recommendations. Occasionally, the manager him or herself will have to seek solutions to marketing problems. It may not be possible to obtain the services of marketing research specialists. The manager familiar with the basic procedures of fact-finding in marketing should be able to supervise a reasonably satisfactory search for the information required.
There is no single set of steps in a market research procedure that is accepted by all. Indeed, each marketing research problem requires, to some degree, its own peculiar procedure. However, there is general agreement that four major activities should be performed in a thorough marketing research project. These are: (1) making a preliminary investigation; (2) creating the research design; (3) conducting the investigation; and (4) processing the data/reporting results (see Figure 3.2).2