Marketing research is the process of finding information and using it to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems. This information is also used to link consumers and the end users to the marketer. Marketing Research is aided by several tools which include conducting interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and size-ups. With the use of these tools, a business owner or a marketer can gather information concerning their product or service. As an advantage, it enables an individual to discover areas of highest returns for the selected industry based on the target market. One is also able to discover strengths and weaknesses of the competitors providing the same product. Businesses also get to discover the best advertising and distribution channels for their products, based on the costs involved. Business owners are also able to make adjustments on their products and services, based on customer feedback acquired from the questionnaires issued to different individuals in the market, so as to suit general customer needs. Specific characteristics that affect potential customers are also catered for as a result of the market research.
Marketing strategies are methods that aim at increasing sales and get a competitive advantage over other competitors. They are meant to serve the business for a long time (long-term), staying in the market for several years. They include basic and long-term activities. A small business of interest is a startup travelling agency business that focuses on offering travel packages for students who are interested in travelling to different parts of the country. The marketing strategies include defining the service being offered. Services are offered at affordable prices that will cater for travelling to and from the destination, accommodation at the destination and tours around the destination. They may also offer a discount if a group reaches a certain number of people. They may make it more interesting by partnering with a flight company that would be willing to offer flight services to the groups. Through pricing, they will have to offer amazing offers that will attract customers and yet bring in profits. In terms of market positioning, the agency may put up a website that operates 24/7 so that potential customers can access it and get information. The offices also need to be centrally located to enhance their accessibility. Promotion of the service may be done by occasionally offering great offers, maybe by introducing a competition where the winning team is offered a free trip to a certain destination. Advertising is also done extensively. The sales and marketing people should be knowledgeable and very friendly to customers. The physical environment should be appealing to customers, for example, beautiful offices with excellent décor, an attractive website, say with mini games and photo sections where one can take a picture and post it on the website.
Pricing strategies can be used to maximize profitability per unit sold or in this case, enter a new market. It may involve raising or lowering prices depending on the organization and market needs, made known by consumer behaviors. These should consider fixed and variable costs, competition, proposed positioning strategies, company objectives, and the target group and their willingness to pay for the services. Pricing strategies include discount pricing where the agency sets discounted prices on the travel packages so as to attract customers to their services. Skim pricing is also used. The agency starts with high prices for the packages so as to recover costs, and then reduces them slowly until they reach an optimum price where they settle. Market penetration pricing is common for start-up businesses like this agency, where they set low prices so that they can attract customers, establish a fair market share and gain their loyalty over time. After this, they then start increasing the prices of the services offered over time.