The Marketing Research Mix
Planning an Effective Research Process
To develop a great new product, you need a thorough understanding of your market. This helps you design something that customers really want to buy.
You develop this understanding by conducting market research. But, how should you approach this?
In this article, we'll look at the Marketing Research Mix, a simple checklist that you can use to plan an effective market research project.
What Is Market Research?
Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing information about a target customer group, so that you can develop great products, and then plan a sales and marketing approach that fits the needs of these customers.
You can use the Marketing Research Mix to plan your research.
About the Model
Nigel Bradley developed the Marketing Research Mix in 2004, and he explained it in his 2007 book, "Marketing Research." Bradley's four stages – his 4 Ps – are:
You can use the 4 Ps to design a research project; to organize the results of your research; and to challenge research, so that you can assess its quality.
You can use the Marketing Research Mix with a similar-sounding tool, the Marketing Mix.
Both tools have steps that form four Ps, but, aside from this, the tools are very different. You should use the Marketing Research Mix first, to design your research process. You can then move on to use the Marketing Mix, which helps you market your product to your audience effectively.
Applying the Four Ps
Below, we've outlined each of the four stages in the Marketing Research Mix. The steps are more effective if you follow them sequentially.
Before you start your research, you need to clarify why you are doing it. What do you ultimately need to achieve?
Write a hypothesis – a statement or assumption that you want to test as part of your research. For example:
"Customers in this market are willing to pay a premium for a product branded as 'luxury.'"
Use your hypothesis to design your research process. Aim to be able to accept or reject the hypothesis at the end of your research.
This part of the research process focuses on who you will approach.
Think about the following questions:
- Which groups make up this market?
- Which groups will I be able to address in a sufficiently cost-effective way?
- How can I best access different groups' views?
- Who are the major players or the most likely buyers in these groups?
- How should I select research participants?
(See our article on Market Segmentation for more on identifying potentially-profitable segments of your market.)
The next step is to decide on the research approach that you will use. You'll need to make this decision based on your knowledge of your market, and on the resources available to you.
Think about whether there are "secondary sources" that you can use. Have other teams in your company, or other organizations (including your competitors), carried out research in these areas? What conclusions did they draw?
And have external consultancies or researchers explored these areas? What did they conclude? (Buying this research – or accessing it through a business library – can save you a lot of time, effort, and expense.)
You'll probably also want to use primary research techniques to test your hypothesis.
These are often more expensive than secondary research methods, and they include questioning (using surveys or personal interviews), observation (using focus groups or blind studies), and experimentation (conducting business experiments).
The last stage in using the Marketing Research Mix is to decide how to share the results of your tests and experiments.
Who needs to see this information – for example, leaders in your organization, sales managers, or your team members? How will you present it to them? And how can you protect your findings from your competitors?
While this stage is quite simple, it can involve a lot of work.
Nigel Bradley developed the Marketing Research Mix and published it in his 2007 book, "Marketing Research." The stages are:
You can use these stages to design and plan an effective marketing research project.