Marketing managers and research must work closely together to define the problem and agree on research objectives. The manager best understands the decision for which information is needed the researcher best understands marketing research and how to obtain the information. Defining the problem and research objectives is often the hardest step in research process. The manager may know that something is wrong, without knowing the specific causes.
After the problem has been defined carefully, the manager and researcher must set the research objectives. A marketing research project might have one of three types of objectives. The objective of exploratory research is to gather preliminary information that will help define the problem and suggest hypotheses. The objective of descriptive research is to describe things, such as the market potential for product or the demographics and attitudes of consumers who buy the product. The objective of causal research is to test hypotheses about cause and effect relationships. For example would a 10 percent decrease in tuition at a private college result in an enrollment increase sufficient to offset the reduced tuition? Managers often start with exploratory research and later follow with descriptive or causal research.
The statement of the problem and research objectives guides the entire research process. The manager and researcher should put the statement in writing to be certain that they agree on the purpose and expected results of the research.