Marketing research is "the planned and systematic gathering and collation of data and the analysis of information relating to all aspects of marketing and the final consumption of goods or services" -Leader & Krystis. Sometimes a company may want information about its customers, and so will carry out research.
The marketing environment is constantly changing and as marketers we need to monitor these changes through research. The research is not used to make decisions but to reduce the risk of making a wrong decision. For example Max Factor may decide to change the shade of its red lipstick after seeing that people don't buy it as much as the red lipstick of Revlon, but unless they do marketing research they do not know whether this is because of the shade of the lipstick of any other reason. This would not only be an expensive mistake but they may also lose some of their current customers who do not like the new change. How can we know what it is that our customers want or need without asking them? Without research we will reduce our decisions to guess work.
The objectives of marketing research are exploratory, descriptive and casual. Exploratory research starts by collecting information that may assist in helping to define a problem an suggest a theory for it. For example: the manufacturer of Utterly Butterly may notice a decline in sales and the manager mar talk to wholesalers, retailers or sales representatives to try and identify possible problems.
Descriptive research is used to "...describe marketing problems, situations or markets such as the market potential for a product or the demographics and attitudes of consumers" - Armstrong.
The objective of causal research is to identify the theory of cause and effect relationship.
The first step in carrying out marketing research is to define the marketing problems and opportunities. These problems and opportunities vary, launching a new product, for example when McDonalds launched their hotdog in England they did not sell it in every restaurant in the country but only in one town which is not a tourist based area, otherwise the results would not be "true" since its success or failure would be due to the tourists and not the locals. Other problems that may occur are low awareness or utilization of your company and its products or services, a poor company image and problems with distribution.
Secondly objectives, a budget and timetable have to be set. The objective may be to explore the nature of the problem or how the packaging of your product may effect the number of people who buy your product, for example red packaging for a frozen pizza may look more appealing to a customer than brown....