The marketing research activity is believed to be essential for collecting detailed information related to the marketing environment. This can help a company to decide upon their pricing strategies and other marketing parameters. The current study is aimed to provide a marketing research plan for the Coles Supermarket. The main focus will be the source of information for the research alongside the research process and design. The ethical issues will also be highlighted along with the measures that can be implicated to overcome the same. The marketing research will focus upon a particular customer segment, who regularly visits the Coles Supermarket. The customer segments include people of all age categories mostly belonging in the urban areas of Australia.
Source of Information along with advantages and disadvantages
The market information is believed to be the most essential part of marketing research that can help the Coles Supermarket to implement their marketing mix plan. There are two main source of data collection that includes that of primary and secondary (Kotler and Armstrong 2013). The primary data are collected directly from the market from customers and other stakeholders. The information is collected through online and offline surveys. The Coles supermarket will conduct the research mainly on the target customer groups, who have high contribution to the micro environment.
With the rapid rate of development in the department of digital technology most of the market researchers are dependent upon the methods of online survey. According to Hopkinson and Blois (2014), the main advantage of the online survey is that in little span of time huge and wide ranges of data can be collected. Chae et al. (2017), have added that it is also easy to track the respondents and provide them with detailed product information. On the other hand, Felix et al. (2017), have mentioned that the main drawbacks of online survey are associated with the fact that; market researchers do not get the opportunity to directly interact with the customers. Hence, there is a risk of collecting fake, manipulative or irrelevant information.
Telephonic interviews can also be conductedthat will give the market researchers the opportunity to directly interact with the customers. The interview is conducted by designing of short questionnaires (Pedersen and Nielsen 2016). The customers will able to share their opinions about the existing service and product quality of Coles. They can even further suggest details about the future improvements of service and product features. This method will be implemented for the segments, who regularly visit the local store of Coles Supermarket.
The marketing tool of porter’s five force analysis can be applied for collecting information related to the competitive environment (Sun and Wang 2015). This will enable the marketing managers to identify the main source of external threats. In case of the Coles Supermarket, the main source of threats includes that of tough level of competition from the rivals and the pressure from the customers to provide products at much cheaper rates.
The pricing strategy is believed to be the key parameters of marketing mix that are implemented to deal with all major challenges within the marketing research(Nagle et al. 2016). The customer perceptions are believed to be the key to deciding upon the pricing strategy. With the help of the marketing research, it is possible to get information related to that of the customer perception. Here, they can get the information about the cost effectiveness of the product. With detailed information related to the marketing strategy, it is possible to draw upon competitive advantage. The marketing managers of Coles can also relate their price and the product details along with that of the competitors. They also can get detailed information about the offers that are introduced by the relevant brands. Nevertheless, the main drawbacks in the context are that while lowering the price, the quality of the products is often compromised. This pricing strategy will be effective in deciding upon the needs of the specific customer segment of Coles. For example, for the middle-class section of the society, it is essential to implement the strategy of economic pricing, where it is necessary to provide cost-effective products.
The secondary data are mainly collected from internal business, finance and marketing reports. Few of the significant sources include that of the profit and loss statement, balance sheet, inventory records and annual sales figures. There also can be external sources that include Government records related to that of business taxes and laws, reports of trade associations along with that of the articles that are published in print and electronic media. The marketing managers of Coles Supermarket will consult the business and trade journals that are published in Australia consisting the detailed information related to the business environment in Australia. The market researchers can also get the data from past sales record of the company, which is estimated in the annual finance report.
Following are steps within the marketing research:
- Problem definition: The main existing problems for Coles are due to the intense level of external competition. The customers are also not satisfied with the cost-effectiveness of the products
- Development of an Approach to the Problem: The approach of the research is to collect primary and secondary data. It will be therefore possible to develop and get idea of the situation that is needed for analyzing the business environment.
- Research Design Formulation: Three types of research design can be used for the given purpose that includes explanatory, exploratory and descriptive. The psychological aspects are considered in case of exploratory research design that will use to understand the behaviour of the customer in Coles Supermarket. Descriptive research design is applied in the given case, as the research has a specific set of objectives.
- Data Preparation and Analysis: As date is being collected from the primary and secondary sources, they are analyzed properly to draw out the conclusion. Proper statistical tool will be used by the market researchers to compare and analyze the same for deciding upon the future marketing strategies (Burns et al. 2014). The framework of the research will be designed by using the survey and interview questionnaires. Survey will be conducted from at least 100 existing customers of Coles. Inclusion and exclusion criteria will be applied for selection of relevant business journal articles for secondary data collection. At least 15-20 journal articles will be chosen by their content related to that of Australian business environment.
- Preparing report and Recommendations: The report will be prepared accordingly and will be used for future references. Proper recommendations will be provided accordingly to improve upon the existing marketing plan of Coles Supermarket.
Possible ethical issues
The first ethical issue related to the market research is violation of participant’s confidentiality. While conducting market research, the personal or professional data of the participants should not be disclosed to any third party, without the consent of the participants (Nunan and Di Domenico 2013). The researchers should not frame the question to get a favorable answer from the respondents. Manipulation of respondents for a favorable answer can affect the authenticity of the research (Zikmund et al. 2013).
The third issue is the privacy and confidentiality of the respondents. The researchers should not provide the personal information of the respondents without their permission (Bryman and Bell 2015). The research data collection process should comply with the state's law and policies of conducting research. The private data of the organization should not be leaked while researching as it could harm the organization in future. Therefore, this ethical concern should be focused (Zikmund et al. 2013).
If the market research is about renowned company, people become influenced by the brand name and did not focus on the product. Therefore, to comply with the ethically correct data collection format, the company name should not be disclosed while conducting a survey (Nunan and Di Domenico 2013). Finally, if the respondents are not being provided with their rights while performing the research, then it can be a concern for the authenticity of it (Bryman and Bell 2015).
Recommendations to overcome ethical issues
The research method and data collection should comply with the Australian Government’s research norms and methodology so that ethical concern related to data collection and data leaking cannot arise (Australian Government Law Reform Commission 2018). The respondents of the research will be provided with several rights such as right to choose, right to safety, directly to be informed, right to privacy so that the research methodology (interview or survey) cannot manipulate the respondents, and the authenticity of the research could be maintained (Eriksson and Kovalainen 2015).
The research should be based on the information provided by the organization only and to publish that information, the organization's consent should be taken. This will help to keep the private data of the organization safe (Amelina and Faist 2012). A proper permission letter or consent document will be collected from the parents of respondents below the age of 15, so that no one can question the method and data collection process of the research (Eriksson and Kovalainen 2015). The respondents will be provided with the opportunity to refuse to be a part of the research and it should be decided that the company authorities, its employees and the other stakeholders could not affect the authenticity of the research (Amelina and Faist 2012).
In order improve the validity of the research work, it is recommended to only make use of the latest information. It is also recommended to collect more volume of information that can help to improve the accuracy of the implemented market strategy.
It is essential to have authentic source of data collection that are needed as a part of the marketing research activity. Hence, it is recommended for the market researchers to decide upon the authentic sources of data both from primary and secondary sources. It is also essential to deal with the ethical issues by maintaining confidentiality of classified information. The survey has to be conducted from wide ranges of customers that will help the company to improve their customer bases. Descriptive and exploratory research design is being used for the given purpose that will help in determining the customer behavior of Coles Supermarket.
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