The best recommendation for Middleton is the use of the Research team from his former University in order to assist him to do the market research. All the options that were available to him each carry its advantages and disadvantages, but the option of the student team offers more value than the other two. A brief look at the other two approaches will highlight their shortfalls and the reason why the third option is the best for Middleton.
The personal approach has both strong and weak points in its favor, but the weaknesses ultimately outweigh the benefits. Having ground-up hands on experience in the market segment is an advantage as he knows exactly what and where the gap exists and how to plug it. The use of ergonomics (Sarstedt & Mool 2014) would stem from the fact that he has seen the difficulties associated with poorly placed buttons for the controls and how he could make it much easier to use. His academic qualifications of several degrees in engineering, is an advantage he can use in easily digesting and analyzing technical data in his quest to do the research.
The disadvantages working against him is the factor of time, which he does not have. Currently overseeing the operations of his fledgling start-up from his basement, he needs to oversee the operations at this crucial time. The other constraint is the financial cost of personally going around to different potential customers to do interviews, (Housden 2012) at his current financial status which is precarious. The other consideration is he may get biased feed-back from potential competitors knowing that he is also in the same market segment that he is operating in.
The use of the consultant is the least attractive option available for him for two reasons. The first is the prohibitively high cost that is beyond his reach. While Middleton had proposed reaching 25 customers in his research, the consultant marks it up by suggesting a total of 75, three times what Middleton had forecast to use. The fact that he is charging for doing secondary research at the cost of $ 1000 per day does not make financial sense, since even Middleton can do that.
The approach the consultant takes of starting with secondary research, (Morosan, Bowen & Atwood 2014) while useful, shows he might be short of ideas on how to navigate this research. To confirm this position, he would need half a day to sit with Middleton to assist him in formulating the relevant questions for the research. This brings into question the depth of expertise the consultant may have in the control’s market.
The use of the research team from the university offers Middleton three distinct advantages (Moss & Ernsthausen 2012) in his market research. The following are the key strengths that will be derived by Middleton by the use of this last option.
Synergy of academic excellence and practical experience
Combining the use of Middleton’s 15 years industry experience and the use of the latest academic knowledge is a winning formula for Middleton. The MBA students would want to outperform each other in this task, knowing it is part of their course assignment. Each student would endeavour to put all their talent, knowledge and prowess into this task, whose success would be their collective success. The use of the course professor as a “consultant” (Rider, Hasselberg & Waluszewski 2013) would come free of charge. The students would also benefit from Middleton’s experience while they got the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in a real life situation.
Wider scope in reach and shorter time.
The project can be broken down into tasks (French & Russel-Bennet 2015) that can be undertaken by teams of students, shortening the time the research can take. This being a course project with timelines to reach, each student would undertake the exercise with the urgency it needs. The time taken to cover Massachusetts would be shorter as the number of students in the MBA class can be divided to quickly cover the whole area.
The research would also be more exhaustive with the greater use of all avenues available for the success of the research. The report shows that the students showed an eagerness to use the internet, while one student wanted to visit the state house to collect information. This kind of fresh thinking and thinking outside of the box is an indicator that the research would be deep.
This undertaking would substantially save Middleton a lot In terms of financial resources, as the students had suggested a total project cost of $ 500. This also being a course project, most of the cost would be absorbed by the university or the students indirectly as their tuition fees. The token cost of $ 500 which would consist of out-of-pocket expenses cannot be compared to what he would have spent or to what the consultant what asking for.
French, J., & Russell-Bennett, R. 2015, A hierarchical model of social marketing. Journal of Social Marketing, 5(2), 139-159.Available at: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1667324978?accountid=45049. [Accessed 6 April.2017]
Housden, M. 2012. CIM Course book 08/09 Marketing research and information. Routledge.
Morosan, C., Bowen, J., T., & Atwood, M 2014. The evolution of marketing research. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26(5), 706-726. Available at: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1660173220?accountid=45049.[Accessed 6 April.2017]
Moss, R.W., & Ernsthausen, D. G 2012. Strauss's handbook of business information: a guide for librarians, students, and researchers. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.
Rider, S., Hasselberg, Y., & Waluszewski, A. 2013. Transformations in research, higher education and the academic market: the breakdown of scientific thought. Dordrecht, Springer Science: Business Media. https://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1030717
Sarstedt, M., & Mool, E 2014. A concise guide to market research: the process, data, and methods using IBM SPSS statistics. Berlin: Springer. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-53965-7
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