Research in the service of marketing

SDA Bocconi Insight - Bookshelf - L. Molteni, G. Troilo

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Now in its second edition, the manual Ricerche di marketing, published by Egea, was designed for the marketing research users, in other words, people who work in the field, such as analysts and decision makers who find themselves facing both operational and strategic questions on a daily basis. Indeed, the practical-methodological analysis in this book provides useful insight for all users: from marketing managers to researchers who need to provide answers to their clients. Thanks to contributions from several different authors, from academics and managers alike, this book combines a theoretical perspective with an analysis of real life business cases.

We asked the book’s curators, Luca Molteni and Gabriele Troilo, to explain why a company should invest in marketing research. We also wanted them to help us understand why data analysis, as in-depth and accurate as it may be, risks being ineffective without intelligent research questions and a well-structured research process.

The new edition of the manual focuses on the importance of research. Why is it so crucial? And secondly, is research a field that goes hand in hand with data analysis? Or does research play a more specific role?

Marketing research is fundamental to effective and efficient decision making in marketing – and beyond. In fact, without systematic investments in both economic and human resources to glean market knowledge, no organization can say it’s truly market oriented, or, as we more often hear today, “customer-centric.” With a wide array of methods and tools for data collection and analysis, the promise of marketing research is the knowledge that organizations need to remain consistently aligned with market evolution.

What factors should a marketing manager take into account to make a decision?

Marketing managers are expected to make a vast range of decisions. Some are strategic, others more tactical; some have long-term perspectives; others aim to achieve more immediate results. What we try to show in the book is that for each decision, specific methods and tools are available through marketing research so managers can avoid the risk of trusting short-sighted intuitions, or thinking, “This is how it’s always been done.” Instead, marketing research helps ground decisions on data and empirical evidence.

What is the impact of digital technologies on research methodologies?

The impact of digital technologies on the world of research has been remarkable, and will continue to be highly relevant in the coming years. Myriad areas are affected: from process automation (it’s getting easier to survey customers online on all major touchpoints), to the possibility to create simple in-house research thanks to specially-designed platforms.  What’s more, questionnaires can be developed with enriched multimedia content and simulations, and neuro-marketing techniques can be used that let marketers track the level of attention and emotions of consumers with a precision that was unheard of in the past.

Today it’s impossible, in particular in marketing, to ignore the impact the pandemic has had in the past two years. What has changed in the consumer experience and, consequently, in corporate strategies?

Anyone can see the changes (just think of how e-commerce is growing, for example, or how home delivery is now available in many different contexts), and the pandemic probably accelerated a transition that otherwise we would have seen happen over a longer timeline. But it’s exactly this - the sudden change in how people behave but also how they perceive products and services – that underscores just how tremendously important research in the field of marketing is. And we have to keep doing this activity today because it’s the only chance we have to capture change in time, or better still, before it happens.

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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