The Web: the tool of choice for marketing research
Online marketing research is booming. A recent study by Ciao AG revealed that 87% of marketing researchers using the Internet for their research believe that its use will increase further over the next six months. Even more, 36% of researchers indicated that this increase would be substantial.
The proliferation of the use of the Internet in this field is mainly explained as follows: Internet makes it possible to find both primary and secondary data in record time and at very competitive prices. Indeed, the Ciao AG study revealed these two advantages (time: 73% – price: 71%) as being the main reasons for using the Internet compared to other tools or methodologies.
Both primary and secondary data are of paramount importance in marketing research. Generally, the search for secondary data is carried out before the search for primary data since the latter is often influenced by the former.
In terms of primary data, many types of research can be done online, providing high-quality results for market researchers. Also according to Ciao, the main data sought online relates to customer satisfaction and attitude. By using both online surveys and observation of Internet users, it is possible to obtain real-time information from these two aspects and thus be able to quickly correct the situation to offer a better overall product/service to customers.
As for secondary data, the Internet opens the door to an ever-changing library of global information, both on the size of a market, the turnover of companies, the demand for a product/service, etc. With the indexing of many types of files (.html, .doc, .pdf, etc.), the number of pages available in search engines always growing and the many specialized tools available online, the Web is a mine both free and paid information.
Some research can only be done through the use of secondary data. This is the case for any research where it is impossible to locate the potential clientele of a product. Secondary data also facilitates the formulation of a marketing problem and avoids unnecessary efforts by using existing data when available.
On the other hand, particular attention must be paid to the information found on the Internet. These are numerous but can sometimes also be misleading. It is therefore necessary to rely on reliable sources during research since many companies tend to play the numbers in their favor and thus bias data that was originally reliable.
In order to illustrate this principle, it suffices to think of the numerous studies carried out in recent months by independent firms which advocate that servers based on the Windows Server 2003 operating system are less expensive than those based on a Linux server. These studies were widely disputed in various articles and Microsoft had to withdraw certain advertisements since they were considered misleading.
Finally, the Web is a double-edged sword when it comes to marketing research. It allows you to find data quickly and cheaply but could also lead you on the wrong track. In addition, quality secondary data is not accessible to everyone. Indeed, many specialized databases require subscriptions to access quality content. Moreover, once the content has been obtained, it is necessary to be able to make a good interpretation of it. Conclusion: Internet offers information, the challenge is now more than ever on the side of interpretation.