Business Research

.. s to the answers. Newsom sites an example of an organization trying to determine where employer bias might play in the event of employment discrimination by asking a the following question: If you had two applicants absolutely equal in terms of educational background and experience, and one was a woman or a member of a minority race, or both, which would you hire? The answer is then interpreted and depending on the employers response, the interviewer is open to several lines of questioning. Adversely, personal interviews can also lead a company down the wrong path. Kotler states that intercept interviews have the drawback of being non-probability samples, and the interviews must be quite short.

Such is the case with Coca-Cola in their initial introduction of the New Coke product. Under Project Kansas in 1982, Coke conducted around 2000 interviews in ten major markets. These interviews were conducted on a one-on-one basis to determine if people would be receptive to a new Coke. The results, according to Hartley, showed a willingness to try a new Coke, however other tests disclosed the opposite. Hartley goes on to demonstrate that small consumer panels or focus groups revealed strong favorable and unfavorable sentiments. Focus Groups Focus groups are a panel of people selected and interviewed as a group.

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Each member of the group is selected because he or she may be representative of a particular group, market segment, or target. In this way, each individual is likely to have opinions and reactions representative of the group he or she was selected to represent. According to Newsom, generally, a focus group consists of 12 to 15 interviewees representing a specific public. Newsom goes on to state that the key to the session’s success is the moderator, who must be a skillful interviewer, adept at keeping the conversation moving and tactful when acting as referee or devil’s advocate. These sessions can last for several hours and are generally video taped while being monitored by a live viewer.

This enables the live viewer to interject questions via the interviewer by passing a note or conversing during a break. Five steps generally followed in focus groups are: (1) Define the problem to be solved; (2) choose the part of the problem to be looked at by the participants; (3) decide how many focus groups are needed and choose the participants; (4) work out all the details of the session; and (5) prepare all material that the group will need. An example of focus groups being used by a company is a case involving FSI. FSI was experiencing a large turnover rate in the position of Branch Manager Trainee. According to Schoeppel, that rate ranged from 48% to 63% annually between 1981 and 1990. This was, however considered an industry standard, but it did create a strong financial burden and inhibited the growth of FSI. There were several measures taken to build a new program for training, management, and retention.

One such element was the use of focus groups comprised of district sales managers to analyze the program. Schoeppel shows that these focus groups were held to enlist support for and ideas about the new program, and to identify and discuss in detain the characteristics they thought were needed to be a successful branch manager. The end result was a questionnaire that was given to branch managers to help assess what characteristics were needed for success in the position of Branch Manager Trainee. Test Marketing Test marketing is one phase of this process that is closer to the end of the research cycle. This is where an organization launches a program or product into a particular segment, or geographical region to see how well the program or product is received. According to Schultz, Martin, and Brown, there are three major reasons for test marketing. These reasons are (1) a trial of the campaign, (2) an opportunity to try variations, and (3) a way to reduce financial risk.

By using a test market as a preliminary trial to a campaign, a company can attempt to gage, according to Kotler, a more reliable forecast of future sales. Also, by using the test market as an opportunity to try variations, an organization can better determine what campaigns will be most effective on a larger scale. Finally, as a means of reducing financial risk, test marketing enables the company to fix challenges that are inherent in a product or discover flaws in the marketing of the product long before they have spent potentially millions of dollars on a much larger segment. A case of effective test marketing is demonstrated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association when they introduced lines of branded beef products that were already cooked or seasoned. The objective was to test a new line of beef products to grow a diminishing market. Michael Rose stated that fewer consumers are cooking from scratch, and the heat-and-serve beef products have filled an increasing amount of space in the grocery store. The initial test market took place in Portland, Oregon.

Portland was selected because it fit many of the pre-selected criteria for the entry market. (1) Portland had little prepared beef products on the shelves of its many supermarkets (consequently, there is a tremendous amount of space taken on the shelves and refrigerated sections of Portland supermarkets now). (2) According to Rose, Portland area’s demographics also fit the beef industry’s target market of convenience-oriented, focused people who work full-time outside of the home. (3) Many grocers emphasized prepared food and quick-serve products. Conclusion As demonstrated in this paper, there are many factors to take into consideration when identifying and solving problems on a large scale. First there are needs on many levels which must be assessed. This assessment should focus on organizational, task, and individual levels to capture a full understanding of where the challenges lie on a three dimensional scheme. Second, a cost analysis must be done. This, among other things, focuses on CBA, to gain a better understanding on where potential benefits and pitfalls lie.

Also, to evaluate the results of a particular program, there is cost effectiveness analysis. The third point within cost analysis is ROI. ROI was demonstrated in the case of DoubleClick, and Erekson et al (1996) suggests that cost analysis has many methods, and that the right method in any given situation might involve drawing from each and every approach. The third and final consideration addressed was research techniques. These techniques, personal interviews, focus groups, and test marketing, demonstrate the needs for an organization to examine their subsequent research techniques and implement programs to gather as much information as possible before attacking a larger market segment.

Kolter states that most companies know market testing can yield valuable information about buyers, dealers, marketing program effectiveness, market potential, and other matters. The main issues really are, how much market testing and what kind. Overall, these points are a general guideline to effectively creating change and foreword inertia. By following these fundamentals and utilizing the principles within, an organization can create a climate conducive not only to change, but to growth as well. Time and again, these factors have been proven to be a formula to success.

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Needham Heights: Simon & Schuster Custom Publishing. 10 13 Business Research Business Essays.