Research Marketing Methods


Marketing managers employ any of four research marketing methods:

(1) Observational Research
(2) Experimental Research
(3) Survey
(4) Focus Group

junk-foodThese research methods constitute an extension of primary data—information collected for some specific purpose at hand. That purpose serves to attract customers, inferring preferences from consumer trends. Research methods help marketing managers assess consumer preferences for certain products.

Burger King’s marketing manager recently introduced Fiery Chicken Fries as a new product on its menu. If limited to two research methods, Observational and Experimental Research probably provide an effective strategy for assessing customer preferences for Burger King’s new Fiery Chicken Fries. Consider the following:

Burger King’s new Fiery Chicken Fries likely stand to benefit from Observational Research. Observational Research gathers primary data to observe relevant people, actions, and situations. Unlike Survey and/or Focus Group Research which superficially assess unreliable opinions, often extracted from unrepresentative population samples, Observational Research transcends mere inquiries. Instead, Observational Research examines how people in action from a relevant demographic might react to particular products beyond simply asking questions.

Marketing managers who utilize this method generally elicit greater accuracy by circumventing biased answers to potentially oversimplified questions from some limited group of people. They avoid this issue by observing human behavior because action usually speaks louder than words—which wrongly assumes reliability, neglecting misperception and/or deceptive motives.

For example, Burger King may listen to internet correspondence—routinely reviewing online consumer conversations on blogs, social networks, and/or websites. Granted, awareness of Burger King’s monitoring practices might dissuade candor. However, “naturally occurring feedback” may spark uninhibited dialogue. Even so, Burger King need not limit observation only to internet communication. Comparing empirical data of similar patterns in situations and behavior may also improve reliability.

For instance, Burger King may observe food items of competitors tantamount in spice/style to the Fiery Chicken Fries. Additionally, Burger King may exploit ethnography research—observing consumers in a natural internet context—e.g. online searches/purchases, to infer probative motives from actions. Moreover, Burger King may deploy trained observers to interact directly with people in their natural environment through ethnographic research. Therefore, observation may increase objective interaction vis-à-vis other research methods. Yet, observation without other research methods limits consumer insight.

Burger King’s new Fiery Chicken Fries strongly supports Experimental Research since assessing food preferences among consumers assumes many variables to determine the widespread effect. Experimental Research implements the heuristics of controlled tests to consider behavioral influences. Like McDonald’s, Burger King may test its “recommended $2.89 for nine pieces” with disparate values at different locations to support marketability.

Secondly, BK may confirm its hypothesized targeted demographic by juxtaposing Millennials with older and younger age generational group preferences in a sample comparison. BK may even consider intermittently interspersing subliminal images of digital logos, including the specific Fiery Chicken Fries image, analogously to Apple with its products. Ultimately, innovation remains key. These trial/error tests may elicit attention from customers, thereby helping to distinguish BK’s Fiery Chicken Fries from other brands.

Therefore, as a marketing manager, Observational and Experimental Research methods prove particularly proactive in developing Burger King’s brand for its Fiery Chicken Fries.

See Katie Little, “Burger King Puts New Spin on Chicken Fries.”
CNBC, Tuesday, August 11, 2015, p.1.

1 Comment
  1. Avatar of Michael Staib
    Michael Staib says

    Thank you, always, dearest Angie, for publishing my writings! Michael

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