Turning Strategic Information Into Strategic Action

Strategic marketing research is undertaken to provide marketing managers with information needed to understand and deal with the current and future competitive environment in the market place. This action culminates in what is called the strategic marketing research plan which is aligned to the strategic marketing plan (also referred to at times as a ‘brand plan’). Noteworthy, the strategic marketing research plan is about information whereas the strategic marketing plan is all about action. The one supports the other. Hence, without information there can be no action and inaction turns information into mere data.

THE PILLARS OF THE STRATEGIC MARKETING RESEARCH PLAN

The strategic marketing research plan consists firstly of what is called market segmentation research followed by positioning research.

Market Segmentation

Market Segmentation divides (corporate /private) consumers and potential consumers into subgroups that show different sensitivities to one or more marketing mix variables. It recognises that different consumer groups respond differently to marketing mix variations. Hence, market segmentation provides the foundation for a company’s marketing strategy and guides the company’s allocation of its resources as it identifies the most lucrative customers in terms of size and value for its target market.

Positioning Research

on the other hand, assesses how the product or service should be differentiated in order to make it stand out and more recognisable in the market. This is the key to branding. Its differentiation is achieved through the following three focus areas:

Product & Price Research

This includes various fields of assessments, including product concept tests; product pricing research; packaging testing (assessing product and promotional functionalities) and product evaluation tests. The latter of assesses among other: (i) The purchase intent (ii) Perceive characteristics of the product offering, (iii) Category and brand usage (iv) Attitude ratings (v) Likes and dislikes of the offering (vi) targeted market segment and may even include (vii) estimated (future) sales using causal research.

Promotion Research

When executing promotion research one assesses on the one hand the advertisement content and concept i.e. how do consumers react to preliminary, rough version of an advertisement, be it for print or the airwaves. It also includes media studies (assessing what media the target market is currently) as well as how customers rate the appropriateness of the ads as well as their effectiveness.

Customer Satisfaction & Relationships

The final leg of the strategic marketing research plan is the measurement of customer satisfaction and relationships. Any company’s longevity depends on this. To research what customers think about your service and how they engage with your brand is imperative to know and needs to be carefully managed.

STRATEGISING DATA COLLECTION TECHNIQUES

Datavision uses six interrelated data collection strategies when it comes to gathering branding and marketing related information.

Fact Finding Research Design

Also known as desktop research. Datavision continuously stays abreast with the latest available academic knowledge within the context of branding and research induced fields. This academic theoretical underpinning not only reduces business risks but it also benchmarks all branding and research engagements against international best practice.

Descriptive Research Design

By far the most popular data collection strategy. Typically it uses personal face-to-face, telephone or self-completion (‘web’ or email questionnaires) to collect data. By quantifying data, this strategy makes reality easy understandable. Datavision ensures representative samples throughout and controls fieldwork strictly.

Observational Research Design

Observational research needs a special mention. As the name indicates, these techniques collect branding information through human and /or mechanical observations. The mystery visitor or shopper exercise for instance, is the main data collection technique which measures brand resonance (i.e. brand relationships). This is what branding is ultimately all about!

Causal Research Design

This design answers key questions relating to ‘what –if?’ For instance, What if I reduce my price by 8%? What if I launch in August instead of July? What if I offer a promotional gift to my product’s first purchase? Datavision finds answers to all these questions using advanced statistical techniques.

Exploratory Research Design

This strategy examines the underlying behavioural motives of consumers and managers alike. The most common data collection techniques used here are in-depth interviews (IDIs), the Delphi technique and group discussions. In gaging the sub-conscious dimension of reality, it applies various projective techniques, including word associations, collages, third person expression techniques and brand mapping.

Metaphysical Research Design

Reaching beyond the subconscious Datavision taps into the realms of the unconscious through various esoteric channels. It provides answers where one would usually expect none. Datavision has applied divinity card systems and numerology successfully to a number of Clients who required answers beyond the conscious and sub-conscious realms of reality. See Innovative solutions.