Importance of social media in marketing research
Published On February 4, 2014 » 3573 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Business, Columns
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Marketing focusI HAD my first practical working experience in marketing research for more than 10 years ago.

This was at a now defunct advertising agency, Adworksadvertising, which later become Adworks Mac Cann Erickson due to its affiliation to the internationally acclaimed advertising agency, MacCan Erickson of the United Kingdom.

The agency had recruited me to establish and manage its marketing research department, as it had a strategic vision to begin providing this service to its clients as a result of an increased demand from the market.

I remember that this was an interesting and challenging task.

You may wonder why this was interesting and challenging.

Well to shade more light on this, I will refer to my time I was
pursuing my marketing studies.

In management information for marketing and sales, we were taught that marketing research was the foundation of every marketing planning and that businesses needed this activity to facilitate for their in- house marketing planning.

During that time I had considered this to be mere rhetoric and only a concept on paper.
Here I was employed in an organisation that saw the prospect of
earning revenue from research.

I now began to realise that marketing research is indeed a critical component of the Marketing function for which serious minded organisations are not only  willing to budget for but also to  spend on.

The challenge was presented to me in terms of having to set up a
system, procedures and work structure from the scratch.

I believe that most of you will agree with me that developing and setting up a new working structure has never been a walk in the park, especially if one is taking up such kind of a responsibility for the first time.

Never the less, this was really a challenge worth embracing, I had to prove myself to the appointing authorities that I was well capable and able to execute the assignment.

Within one month of my taking up the job, the research department was in place and research activities had taken off. Our first client for this service was Reckit & Colman, a South African company who engaged us to conduct amarket testing survey for Nugget shoe polish, Cobra floor polish and some insecticide.

They hired us to carry out research on selected segments such as men for Nugget shoe polish and women for Cobra floor polish and how they perceived the products with regards to quality, pricing and packaging.

They had just repositioned themselves on the Zambian market and about to re-introduce their product brands.

This work I must emphasise was time consuming and daunting.

My team was required to prepare research questions mostly structured ones, ‘YES and No’, examples of questions were, Do you buy and use Nugget shoe polish? Do you like the brand? If the product was priced at K5.00 would you buy?

After preparing the questionnaires, we then went into the field to administer them to selected consumers.

The exercise had its short comings especially those pertaining to respondent’s lack of time to complete their answers.

If you recall the period between 1997 and 1998, the Zambian market was not so much on internet, social media and mobile Communications.

As a matter of fact, at that time we only had one mobile communications company Telecel, implying that mobile phones were a luxury and a preserve only for the privileged few Zambians.

Equally there were only two internet services providers, ZAMNET and Copper net.

This state of affairs left business entities with very few
communications options.

Thank God today, the Marketing research
function has been acidified by the increased use of social media, it is estimated that about 50 percent of the Zambian youth population are on the social media.

The invention of Smart phones, Tablets and I pads has significantly
complimented communication. Having any of these, one is able to access the internet.

As marketers this development means that we can easily interact with consumers and research respondents via the social media or internet thereby reducing the tedious exercise of conducting field research.
 Additionally, for those marketers carrying out secondary research, the internet is a very dependable source of information and secondary data.
Now marketers, why should we make our research work a living hell? If you embark on any kind of marketing or market research, simply get onto the net and post those questionnaires.

Remember, however, to make your questions brief, simple and appropriately target your respondents.
Comments: 0954 536875 or email: ndhlovu75@yahoo.com

(The author is marketing, public relations and customer service consultant)

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