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Research Methods There are two main categories of research methods Secondary research uses research that has already been done by someone else For example marketers often find information compiled by the US Census very useful However in some cases information specific enough to satisfy a firms needs is not publicly available For example a firm will have to run its own research to find out whether consumers would prefer that more vanilla taste be added to its soft drink brand Original research that a firm does for itself is known as primary research There is no one perfect primary research method Each has strengths and weaknesses and thus the appropriate method must be selected based on research needs Surveys are useful for getting a great deal of specific information Surveys can contain open-ended questions eg In which city and state were you born or closed-ended where the respondent is asked to select answers from a brief list eg Male Female Open ended questions have the advantage that the respondent is not limited to the options listed and that the respondent is not being influenced by seeing a list of responses However open-ended questions are often skipped by respondents and coding them can be quite a challenge In general for surveys to yield meaningful responses sample sizes of over 100 are usually required because precision is essential For example if a market share of twenty percent would result in a loss while thirty percent would be profitable a confidence interval of 20-35 is too wide to be useful Surveys come in several different forms Mail surveys are relatively inexpensive but response rates are typically quite low-typically from 5-20 Phone-surveys get somewhat higher response rates but not many questions can be asked because many answer options have to be repeated and few people are willing to stay on the phone for more than five minutes Mall intercepts are a convenient way to reach consumers but
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