The Internet as a Device for Market Research

Seminar Paper 2010 14 Pages

Business economics - Market research


Table of Contents




3.1. Definition of Problem and Research Objectives
3.2. Development of a Research Plan
3.3. Collecting the Information
3.3.1. Executing the Research Plan
3.3.2. Online Communities
3.3.3. Email Surveys and Computer Aided Web Interview
3.3.4. Tracking Web Site Users
3.3.5. Online Group Discussion
3.3.6. Online Panels
3.4. Analyzing the Information
3.5. Presenting the Findings and Making the Decision





Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Introduction

Companies constantly have to make decisions about the products and services they offer. In order to create successful products and services, it is necessary to know how consumers can become customers. Therefore it is essential for a company to under­stand who their (potential) customers as well as (potential) competitors are. Accord­ing to Kotler/Keller, it is “the job of marketing researchers to produce insight into the customer’s attitude and buying behavior”[1].

Over the last years, the Internet has been a fast developing technology. Especially services like email or chat-rooms are used in everyday life by millions of people.[2] The usage of the Internet has spread very fast through nearly the whole society. It is estimated that today nearly 67% of U.S. households have access to the Internet.[3] Kotler/Keller state that online research “[...] was estimated to make up 33 % of all survey-based research in 2006, and Internet-based questionnaires also accounted for nearly one-third of U.S. spending in market research surveys in the same year”[4].

This raises the question whether the Internet is a suitable device for market research. This paper will discuss the use of the Internet for conducting market research on sales markets. First, the concept of market research, as well as what is understood by the term ‘Internet’, will be defined. Thereafter it will be discussed whether and how the Internet can be of assistance to market research.

2. Definitions

Kotler/Keller define Marketing Research as “the systematic design, collection, analy­sis, and reporting of data and findings relevant to a specific marketing situation fac­ing the company”[5]. As an example they state that such marketing situations can be “a market survey, a product-preference test, a sales forecast by region, or an advertising evaluation”[6].

However, Freter separates Market Research and Marketing Research. He states that they differentiate on their object. According to Freter, Market Research focuses on external market information like supply and sales markets. On the other side, Mar­keting Research has its focal point on sales markets and internal marketing information.[7]

Kotler/Keller’s definition will be used in this paper, because it emphasizes the vari­ous steps a market researcher has to carry out in order to support decision-making in a marketing situation. Kotler/Keller formulate Market Research as a process of six stages. The process starts with the definition of the problem and the research objec­tives. The second step is the development of the research plan, which is followed by collecting and thereafter analyzing the information. The fifth step is the presentation of the findings followed by the last step, making the decision. [8]

With regard to Kotler/Keller’s definition of Marketing Research, focused on sales markets, the terms Marketing Research and Market Research will be used synony­mously.

Roessing describes the Internet as a worldwide computer network. Its basic commu­nication functionality is based on TCP/IP, the “Transfer Control Protocol” and “In­ternet-Protocol”. To transfer pieces of information such as files, media, or messages, higher-level protocols are needed. Email, web sites, Usenet (newsgroups), and chats are examples for different services that are based on higher-level protocols. The term ‘Internet’ refers to the various services based on TCP/IP, like the SMTP protocol for email communications.[9]

3. The Market Research Process

3.1. Definition of Problem and Research Objectives

The process starts with the problem definition. Special attention is needed when the researcher and the client characterize and demarcate the problem. It is important not to define the problem too broadly or too narrowly. Kotler/Keller say that it is helpful to work backwards from the decision that must be made to the problem.[10]

After the problem definition, the research objectives have to be outlined. Research objectives contour the research problem. The level of specification is determined by the purpose of the research. Three different purposes can be separated. Research can be exploratory, descriptive, or causal. Exploratory research tries to uncover the “real nature of a problem”[11]. Descriptive research seeks to measure quantitatively, and causal research is in search of cause and effect relations.[12]

In this early phase of the market research process, it is helpful to gain a general idea of the topic. Especially when it is about conducting research in new or unknown mar­kets, a first impression or general overview of the subject is greatly helpful.[13]

According to Zerr, Secondary Research is a very popular and valuable instrument to get a first overview on a specific problem or task.[14] Secondary Research, also call Desk Research, is conducted on data which already has been collected. For instance, studies, (commercial) databases, or statistical offices can all be used as data sources in secondary research.[15]

For this task, the Internet offers various data sources. National and International Sta­tistical Offices, Economic Institutes, banks, universities, companies and others offer data accessible over the Internet. Services like search-engines provide a comprehen­sive access to most web sites.[16]

Market researchers can use the Internet to set up a foundation for the problem defini­tion and outline of the research objectives. It also can help to prepare the market re­search process.[17]

3.2. Development of a Research Plan

Having defined the problem and outlined the research objectives, this paper will con­tinue with the development of a research plan. In their work on marketing manage­ment, Kotler/Keller state that decisions have to be made about “data sources, re­search approaches, research instruments, sampling plan, and contact methods”[18].

Data sources can be primary or secondary data. As explained above, secondary data has already been collected by someone for a specific purpose. In general, it is faster and less expensive than primary data or field research. But often secondary data can­not provide sufficient accuracy and reliability. Whenever more reliable, accurate, and up-to-date information is needed, it has to be gathered with a specific purpose through primary or field research.[19]

Homburg/Krohmer divide primary market research into the three different groups. The first group consists of surveys; observations belong to the second group, and Experiments and Panels are part of the third group, representing a mixture between surveys and observations.[20]

As maintained by Kotler/Keller, there are also three major groups of instruments for the collection of information: the questionnaire, qualitative measures and technical devices. With a questionnaire a researcher asks an interviewee a defined set of ques­tions. Using qualitative measures, researchers ask interviewees more unstructured questions. They try to get deeper insights and a more profound understanding of the interviewee. Technological devices such as eye cameras or skin sensors can help the researcher to get data about the response of a person in a test situation.[21]

The sampling plan includes decisions about the target population as well as sample size or full census. Depending on efforts and possibilities the researchers have to decide whether to draw a probability or a non-probability sample.[22]

With reference to Kotler/Keller, several methods can be distinguished on how to con­tact the subjects. One way is to contact them by mail with a written interview or questionnaire. Other means are by telephone and personal interviews. The latter can be carried out as online-interviews as well.[23]

All decisions in this stage have influence on the costs of the market research. Infor­mation about costs might be available by secondary research using the Internet. However, the Internet can only assist the decision process on the market research plan in a limited way.


[1] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 90.

[2] See BITKOM, Pressemitteilung, 2007.

[3] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 102.

[4] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 101.

[5] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 90.

[6] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 90.

[7] See Freter, Marketing, 2004 p 42.

[8] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 91.

[9] See Roessing, Online-Forscher, 2009 p 49ff.

[10] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 91f.

[11] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 92.

[12] See Homburg/Krohmer, Marketingmanagement, 2006 p 259.

[13] See Zerr, Online-Marktforschung, 2003 p 9.

[14] See Zerr, Online-Marktforschung, 2003 p 8f.

[15] See Berekoven/Eckert/Ellenrieder, Marktforschung, 2009 p 39.

[16] See Berekoven/Eckert/Ellenrieder, Marktforschung, 2009 p 41.

[17] See Zerr, Online-Marktforschung, 2003 p 8.

[18] Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 92.

[19] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 92.

[20] See Homburg/Krohmer, Marketingmanagement, 2006 p 263.

[21] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 96ff.

[22] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 100.

[23] See Kotler/Keller, Marketingmanagement, 2009 p 100f.


ISBN (eBook)
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AKAD University of Applied Sciences Pinneberg
Marktforschung Market Research Internet Computer Aided Web Interview Online Survey




Title: The Internet as a Device for Market Research