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Observational Techniques in Marketing Research

Observational Technique Definition

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What is observational research?
Advantages of Observational Techniques

Focus groups are great tools to use prior to a survey, because it will inform your survey questions to be more specific and targeted. A follow up focus group with a handful of employees will allow the employer to understand that issue much better What is the problem with the food? Is it the taste, price, healthiness, temperature, something else? To simplify things, think of individual interviews as focus groups with only one participant and one moderator interviewer. There is a wide spectrum of interviewing formats, depending on the goal of the interview.

Like focus groups, interviews are useful for exploratory research. These tests can be conducted in controlled environments or out in the field natural settings. This form of market research is always quantitative in nature. Some website visitors would see one image and others at random would see a different image. The webpage team was able to measure which image was resulting in more donations, and they could quickly decide to use the more favorable image for all users.

By employing this simple market research experiment on which website images performed better, Obama was able to maximize contributions in a major way. Another example might be a cereal company making two different packaging styles and delivering each one to limited test market stores where their individual sales can be measured.

Usability testing — Watching a subject use a prototype device is one form of observational research. Again, this can be done with or without intervention. This information can be used to re-design and optimize the page elements. In-Home Observation — Watching a family member go through the morning routine in their home might turn up useful insights into pain-points that need solving.

In-Store Observation — Simply watching shoppers in action is another form of observational research. What do shoppers notice?

How do they go through a store? Instead of using data to try and predict what will happen when consumers pass a large product display, observation validates with actual results. Observation can improve the quality of an initial behavioral analysis based on demographics, therefore increasing the validity of research. This technique is ideal for situations in which nonverbal communication is important for a complete consumer profile.

Observation provides a more reliable measurement of actual consumer behavior, rather than self-report metrics. Observation research can include a high degree of researcher bias. Because the observer is human, subconscious opinions on demographics can affect the analysis. The method also relies on the interpretation of observation. Researchers are sometimes left at the mercy of whomever came into a store that day, whether or not it lines up with desired consumer profiles.

Researchers have no control over the situations and environments typically used in observational research. Additionally, observational research is time consuming. One must have patience and time to devote to watching a set number of individuals or settings to obtain the information necessary. Researchers may also become distracted while observing, which can taint the results of the research. Several common examples of observational marketing techniques exist and are used frequently.

Perhaps, one of the most common ways researchers use observational techniques is through cookies on computers, used to track users' web views and visits. Focus groups utilize observational techniques, as does the Nielson ratings used to track popular viewing habits of television programs. Transportation departments use observational research to conduct traffic counts and usage patterns. Many retail marketers use observational techniques when they count license plates in parking lots, record purchasing behavior through bar-coded transactions and observe package scrutiny and preference.

Vicki Wright, writing and editing professionally since , has extensive business management, marketing and media experience. Wright has a Bachelor of Science in socio-poltical communication from Missouri State University and became certified as a leadership facilitator from the Kansas Leadership Center in Skip to main content. Observational Technique Definition Observational marketing research is a qualitative method of collecting and analyzing information obtained through directly or indirectly watching and observing others in natural or planned environments.

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Observational marketing research is a qualitative method of collecting and analyzing information obtained through directly or indirectly watching and observing others in natural or planned environments.

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Observational research, also known as field research, is a category of market information collection in which the researcher observes ongoing behaviors of the study participants. It is used with participants in naturally occurring situations.

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Observation is a market research technique in which highly trained researchers generally watch how people or consumers behave and interact in the market under natural conditions. It is designed to give precisely a detailed and actual information on what consumers do . Observational research is a method of data collection that has become associated with qualitative research. [1] Compared with quantitative research and experimental research, observational research tends to be less reliable but often more valid [ citation needed ].

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This article provides an overview of 6 different type of market research methods, including secondary research, surveys, focus groups, interviews, observational research, and experiments. As with most research methods, observational research works best in tandem with other methods. A focus group, for instance, could outline thoughts and opinions, while observation showcases actual behavior in real-life situations.