Chapter 4: Marketing Research

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will be able to articulate and explain the importance of marketing research for the effective development of a marketing strategy
  2. Students will differentiate the types and purposes of research techniques


Discovering why they chew

Juicy Fruit Gum, the oldest brand of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, was not chewing up the teen market, gum’s top demographic. In 1997, the company found itself under pressure from competitors. Sales and market share were down. How could Wrigley make more kids chomp on Juicy Fruit? What qualities about Juicy Fruit might appeal to teens? Wrigley went to the source to find out. It found kids who chew five sticks or more of Juicy Fruit each week and promptly gave them a homework assignment. Find pictures that remind them of the gum and write a short story about it. From the focus group, Wrigley learned that teens chew Juicy Fruit because it is sweet. It refreshes and energizes them.

Their ad agency, BBDO, confirmed what the teens were saying. BBDO asked more than 400 heavy gum chewers to rate various brands by attributes that best represented them. For Juicy Fruit, respondents picked phrases such as “has the right amount of sweetness” and “is made with natural sweetness”. Another study by BBDO looked into why teens chew gum. Was it because they are stressed out—or because they forgot to brush their teeth before going to school? Nearly three out of four kids said they stick a wad into their mouth when they crave something sweet. And Juicy Fruit was the top brand they chose to fulfill that need (Big Red was a distant second).

Although the marketing research conducted by the Wrigley Co. was fairly simple, it provided a new direction for their marketing strategy. BBDO developed four TV commercials with the “Gotta Have Sweet” theme. Roughly 70 per cent of respondents voluntarily recalled the Juicy Fruit name after watching the commercial (the average recall for a brand of sugar gum is 57 per cent). Sales of 100-stick boxes of Juicy Fruit rose 5 per cent after the start of the ad campaign, reversing a 2 per cent decline prior to it. Juicy Fruit’s market share also increased from 4.9 per cent to 5.3 per cent, the biggest gain of any established chewing gum brand during the year following the campaign.

Marketing research addresses the need for quicker, yet more accurate, decision making by the marketer. The impetus for this situation is the complex relationship between the business firm and the ever-changing external environment. In particular, most marketers are far removed from their customers; yet most know who their customers are, what they want, and what competitors are doing. Often the marketer relies on salespeople and dealers for information, but more and more the best source of information is marketing research.

It should be noted that most marketing decisions are still made without the use of formal marketing research. In many cases, the time required to do marketing research is not available. In other cases, the cost of obtaining the data is prohibitive or the desired data cannot be obtained in reliable form. Ultimately, successful marketing executives make decisions on the basis of a blend of facts and intuition.

Marketing research is applicable throughout the marketing planning process. It is a very exciting field that allows organizations to make strategic decisions to achieve their objectives. Taking the time to research the environment, the competition, and most importantly, the target market, allows a marketer to make well-informed decisions. Marketing research can be conducted in all sizes and types of organizations. While resources may be limited, there are many credible sources of information that are free or inexpensive to access.

In this chapter, we are going to explore the marketing research process. Before getting into the process, let’s discuss some of the potential issues or hurdles a marketer might face.

Potential Issues

There are two main hurdles that can get in the way of effective research within an organization: a sense of urgency, and resource allocation

  1. Sense of Urgency: While some research can be ‘looked up’ fairly quickly, good quality research takes time. Marketers or others within an organization, may want to move on decision making quickly without taking the time to do proper research. This becomes more prevalent when decision makers use ‘what works for me’ or ‘what I like’ to make decisions regarding the target market.
  2. Resource Allocation: Marketing research can be expensive. When requesting approval for the expenditure, a researcher may experience resistance as the research cannot guarantee a specific return on the investment.



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