Assignment question 1:
Business environment change and impact on the marketing activities
The business environment is the widest sphere in which a company operates. Generally, business environment is divided into two parts, on is internal business environment, another is external environment. However, business environment changes are more presented as external environment changes, it includes competitive changes, economic changes, technological changes, political changes, legal changes and sociocultural changes. Business environment often changes rapidly and usually has new threats and opportunities inside. Therefore, all of theses changes need management decision makers who are in the organizations to rethink their view of marketing research.
In this report, we will research something about the significant changes taking place in today’s business environment that are forcing management decision markers to rethink their views of marketing research. And we will also discuss about the potential impact on the marketing research activities which are from these changes.
Business Environment Changes
Competitive environment changes
Nowadays, new competitive environment is created continuously. Competition is now based more on capabilities than assets. New competitive dynamics led to greater instability in the profitability of companies. New products, services, technology, industries and competitors are emerging with blinding speed. When comparable firms are competing with each other, they should consider that whether the quality of products and services are superior or not and whether the cost and the price of the products and services are lower than its competitors or not. Because for most products, customers have many alternatives from which to choose. Once the purchase finishes, the competitive environment is generating both losers and winners in the process. The winners will be rewarded extra profits, more resources, greater economic power and happier market share. However, the losers may soon be out of business.
So, management decision makers should take more account into the products’ and services’ quality and technology when they rethink their views of marketing research from competitive environment changes.
Economic environment changes
Another important environment for business is economic environment. Economic environment can influence both marketers’ and customers’ decisions and activities. Globalization is a trend for the global economy. It causes companies to benefit from the largest and cheapest workforce, raw materials and technology. It also creates many new opportunities for the business environment, such as niche market, and requires everyone to keep up with globalization in order to stay competitive. The growth of the economy and the economic globalization led customers to become more and more sophisticated and informed buyers. Therefore, customers actively seek alternatives, compare offers and hold out for the best option when they are going to make the purchase decisions.
After recognize the development of the economic environment, management decision markers should pay more attention on its competitors, the high-level of customers’ buying power and the wide knowledge of customers before the decisions are made.
In today’s political environment, “Green” issues become more and more important on the international agenda. International groups advocate that environmental protection is needed when companies are producing products, providing services and doing trade.
As a result, environment protection should be considered in marketing research when decision markers are making decisions.
Legal environment changes
In today’s business law, one of the most popular topics is trademark protection. Trademark is a distinctive sign of legal entity, it maybe a logo, a product name or a phrase. Companies should consult with trademark counsel to make sure their mark uses and right are preserved.
Trademark embezzlement and trademark protection should be carefully considered when decision markers are doing the marketing research today, because it can be a serious problem when they happen.
Technological environment changes
Technology is a broad concept that deals with a species' usage and knowledge of tools and crafts. Technology revolution is changing the world. Life will be revolutionized by the growing effect of multidisciplinary technology. Technology revolution includes revolution of materials, devices and manufacturing. However, the most significant revolution will be the Biotechnology by 2015. Information technology is already revolutionizing our live, it produces products, components and systems that are smaller, smarter, multi-functional, environmentally compatible, more survivable and customizable. These products will contribute to the Biotechnology in the future.
Therefore, when companies produce some technological products, decision makers should know whether the technology of these products accord with customers’ need in this developing society.
Sociocultural environment changes
Some major changes in term of sociocultural appear in the world today. They are presented as that people with different cultural backgrounds and practices, with different ideas and different way of life and economic resources, share their living space and have to find ways to deal and cope with each other.
Different people from different countries have different social cultural. So, decision makers also should think about the different lifestyle, different economic resources and so on when they are doing research with different people in today’s business environment.
The impact of changes on marketing research activities
The changes of the business environment imply that strategy of the marketing research activities should be adjusted when the business environment change, especially for the problem discovery and definition stage, because it is the first stage of the marketing research process. For example, in the problem discovery and definition stage of the marketing research activities, it should be to clarify a problem, define an opportunity, or monitor and evaluate current operations. However, as I mention above for the economic environment change, globalization creates so many new opportunities for business. It just fixes the task of the problem discovery and definition stage. Therefore, decision markers should pay attention to the changes of the economic globalization development in their problem discovery and definition stage, change their decisions, monitoring and evaluation once the globalization has a better development.
Knowing well the changing business environment is good for decision makers to rethink their view of marketing research activities. A good marketing research activity should change when the business environment is also change. So decision markers need to evaluate the business environment before they are doing the marketing research in order to achieve their objective better and maximize profits.
Assignment question 2:
In dictionary, focus group is defined as ‘A small group selected from a wider population and sampled, as by open discussion, for its members' opinions about or emotional response to a particular subject or area, used especially in market research or political analysis’. It is used especially in market research. In the world of marketing, focus groups are an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products. Before new products enter to the public, focus groups who allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product will discuss, view, or test it. Focus groups are also used to test marketing programs as they can provide an indication of consumers’ response and other types of marketing communications (Churchill & Brown 2007).
In this report, we will discuss about the disadvantages of using focus groups and two recent trends in focus group research. We will also analyse that why this recent trends have evolved.
The Disadvantage of using focus groups
Focus group has become more and more popular in many advertising and research agencies, and it is event be considered as the only qualitative research tool for them (Zikmund 2003, p.127). However, focus groups also have disadvantages: The researcher has less control over a group than a one-on-one interview, and thus time can be lost on issues irrelevant to the topic (Needs assessment decision aid n.d.); the data are tough to analyze because the talking is in reaction to the comments of other group members; observers/ moderators need to be highly trained, and groups are quite variable and can be tough to get together. Moreover, the number of members of a focus group is not large enough to be a representative sample of a population; thus, the data obtained from the groups is not necessarily representative of the whole population (Advantages and disadvantages of focus groups 2005).
Two recent trends in focus group research and why these have evolved
Changing media consumption habits
Recently, decision markers have an inherent preference for quantitative research, striving for mathematical certainty in business analysis is because of the development of the digital age. However, consumers’ motivation are frequently influenced by the digital age now, as a result, consumers’ media consumption are changing (Murrray 2006, p.69). So on of the recent trends in focus group research is to understand the changing media consumption habits of consumers which is influencing all over the world (Consumer research: interview and focus groups 2007).
With the growing importance of media, information and communications in society, consumers increasingly want to obtain their entertainment content anytime, anywhere and with relative ease and across a variety of platforms — television, Internet, mobile. For this topic, focus group helps organisations across the content and distribution ecosystem understand how these findings impact their business models and how they can maintain consumer relationships for years to come. The objectives for focus group in this task are the understanding of consumers’ media consumption patterns and the emerging advertising trends in the age of digital content delivery (Consumer research: interview and focus groups 2007).
Consumers’ media consumption habits are changing because of the emergence of multiple distribution channels and the arrival of non-traditional competitor. There are several key points to support these reasons of consumers’ changing media consumption habits. There are: 1. Consumer demand for multiple channels drives competition. 2. Consumers demand for more flexible and compelling content drives competition. 3. Non-traditional competitors offer media service to consumers. 4. Consumer demand helps fuel broadband adoption. 5. Media sub-sectors roll out new services to remain competitive. 6. The broadcasting and film sectors adjust to increased competition. 7. Print and publishing industry adapts to digital distribution. 8. The gaming industry evolves to online models. 9. Digital distribution slowly begins to benefit the music industry (Media consumption habits are changing 2007).
Online focus group
Online focus group is a type of focus group, its character is to use Internet technology to carry on the participators’ discussion (Zikmund 2003, p.133). Twenty-five years ago, Internet was just a small dog at the bottom of the telecommunications pile. Now, everyone is using Internet, and using it in more and more interesting ways (Robert 2006, p.16). The use of the Internet for qualitative exploratory research is growing rapidly, as a result, another trend in focus group is that online focus group will be widely used in the future compare to the traditional focus group (Zikmund 2003, p.133).
Online focus group is different from traditional focus group, it represent a technological breakthrough in conducting market research and are an effective way of leading select groups into in-depth discussions about specific topics. Respondents share images, data, and their responses on their computer screens. This avoids a significant amount of travel expenses. It allows respondents from all over the country to gather, electronically, while avoiding countless logistical headaches. In addition to the savings on travel, online focus groups often can be accomplished faster than traditional groups because respondents are recruited from online panel members who are often pre-qualified to match research criteria (Rezabek 2000).
Focus groups are more and more widely used in today’s marketing research environment. It is useful for assessing program effectiveness and identifying participants’ needs. Although it has some disadvantages, it is a good tool in exploratory. Besides, decision markers should consider the recent trends in focus groups research when they are going to do a research or make decisions