The need for Market Research in Malaysia

By Dr Leow Chee Seng
FBIH (UK), MMIM, MIMM, MIHRM, CAHRP, CPT-MIM, MBA (UPM), PhD (USM), DBA (UBI) Certified E-Commerce Professional (Mal),Certified Professional Trainer (MIM, PSNB),Certified Stress Management (IACT, USA),Certificate Qualitative Research (Georgia, USA), Certificate in Homeopathy Medicine (Mal)

Market research is an essential part of any business that offers products or services that are focussed and well targeted. It views the entire business from the customer's viewpoint taking into account every aspect of the marketing mix from the product to price, distribution channels and marketing communications. All these factors affect the customer's response to a product or service. Business decisions that are based on good judgement and good market research can minimise risk and pay dividends when market research is part and parcel of the business process. In general, businesses that invest in market research increase their chances of succeeding both locally and internationally. “Why do I need to invest in market research? I am just running a small enterprise!” This statement is extremely common when consultants approach SMIs or SMEs to conduct market research to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in running a business. Unfortunately, the awareness on the importance of market research is limited among Malaysians. Hence, effort and resources are wasted on trials and errors. (Hair et. al., 2003). A company may begin exporting without having carried out any market research and this may have disastrous consequences. In fact, it will be able to find even more promising markets if it conducts a systematic research. Market research is imperative for a company to know type of products or services would be profitable to be introduced into the market. Penetrating a new market without a complete market research could lead to time and resources wastage. One of the major scopes of marketing research is to manage the current products and new products through product management research. Some entrepreneurs act based on their gut feel to determine market segmentation, promotional and price strategies. These methods obstruct the growth of the organisation. Besides that, with respect to its existing products in the market, good market research enables a company to know if it has been able to satisfy customer needs and whether any changes need to be made in the packaging, delivery or the product itself. A competitive intelligence research is important to understand the competitive product strategy to enable a company to formulate a viable marketing plan or measure the success of its existing plan. On the other hand, test marketing research helps monitor the performance of a brand by launching in a select area and then taking it across the country. In other words, it is a small-scale product launch used to determine the likely acceptance of the product when it is introduced into a wider market. After launching the new product, concept testing research could identify and test the acceptance of a concept by target consumers. In short, market research will minimise risk when doing business. Market research can help shape a new product or service, identifying what is needed and ensuring that the development of a product is highly focused towards demand. Market research helps better communicate and understanding of success in business. I have conducted a research to compare customer satisfaction among patients from private and public hospitals. From the research, we have identified elements that could boost up their
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customer satisfaction to gear up key performance index (KPI) of the organisation. Consequently, current customers’ experiences are valuable information source, as not only will this allow you to gauge how well you currently meet their expectations but it can also tell you what you are doing right and more importantly what you are doing wrong. By asking for customer feedback, not only are you showing them that you care but you are also taking the guess work out of customer services. Indirectly, the organisation has implemented a branding strategy to increase the market share. Consumer behaviour plays a vital role if you are planning to operate a new service. We need to know the preconceived attitudes people have and market research can help, not only in evaluating the potential for a new idea, but also in identifying the areas where a marketing message needs to honed. Market research helps you identify opportunities. By understanding consumer behaviour, we could deliver convincing sales presentations, shorten the sales cycle, create effective marketing strategies, boost revenue and profits, radically improve the ability to influence others and close more deals. Hence, understanding consumers through market research stimulates an organisation to create a “wow” marketing plan. Nevertheless, market research creates benchmarks and helps an organisation measure their progress and analyse the corporate effectiveness through corporate research. Among some research that can be proposed in an organisation is assessing the image of the company (brand audit research). In advertising research, readership feedback and advertising recall are common to assess the effectiveness of advertisements. Early research may highlight glaring holes in your service or shortcomings in your product. Regular market research will definitely help motivate a company if improvements are being made and more so if they are positive. Sales analysis is also a type of market research. In sales analysis, sales trends and suitable strategies are planned and applied to ensure the optimum growth of the organisation. In sales analysis, we would assess market potential, estimation of demand for a product and market share estimation. In addition to that, we would also study seasonal variation for a product, conduct market segmentation studies, estimate the size of the market and carry out a needs analysis to find out where the product fits in. Through effective marketing research, time, effort and resources can be utilized at optimum state to benefit the organisation. To sum up, market research consists of a plan that charts how relevant data is to be collected and analyzed so that the results are useful and relevant for making marketing decisions. Once the research and the related analysis are completed, the results are communicated to management. This provides management with in-depth information regarding crucial factors that have an impact on the targeted market and existing marketing mix. Market research allows management to make the changes necessary for better results through adopting a proactive approach. There is no doubt that market research is crucial and therefore, SMIs and SMEs should include such research in their business plan.

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