How Internet Technology Benefits Market Research

3372 words - 14 pages

Today's Internet technology and applications development process is replacing many traditional research methods. Some of the most notable changes are taking place in traditionally low-technology areas. One such area is market research, which encompasses many activities that can be improved through the use of new technology. Conducting market research traditionally has been painfully slow and labour intensive, requiring a significant investment by manufacturers. By using the Internet as a research delivery mechanism and data collection tool, manufacturers can expedite the market research process and reduce costs. Innovations offered by the Internet may give device manufacturers greater reason ...view middle of the document...

There are many advantages of using the Internet / e-mail as a research tool. In particular electronic communication sets up a 'democratisation of exchange' that eludes more conventional research methodologies. As Boshier arguesE-mail appears to provide a context for the kind of non-coercive and anti-hierarchical dialogue that Habermas claimed constitutes an 'ideal speech situation', free of internal or external coercion, and characterised by equality of opportunity and reciprocity in roles assumed by participants (Boshier 1990, p. 51)In this way e-mail goes some way to transcending the traditional biases that beset interviewing techniques. As Spender (1995) argues, the concepts of race, gender, age and sexuality do not necessarily apply when communicating electronically. Furthermore, the potential for asynchronous communication that e-mail offers is attractive feature when considering its use as a research tool (Thach 1995). Subjects are not constrained to synchronous communication but can respond when and how they feel comfortable. In short, e-mail's primary advantage is its 'friendliness' to the respondent.Another advantage of using the Internet (email) to collect research data is that certain problems can be controlled more effectively by Internet-based systems than with conventional paper-based survey methods. For example, respondents to Internet-based surveys are allowed to select only from the given responses to each question. Survey participants cannot write in another answer or select more than one answer. Furthermore, respondents are not able to skip ahead (as is possible with a printed survey). Use of an Internet-based format yields surveys that are more complete and eliminates biases that can develop if participants are able to look ahead at question topics.The Internet also provides a foundation for conducting focus groups on-line using a virtual facility that all participants can access from their own personal computers. This can reduce costs because a considerable part of the expense of conducting focus groups is the compensation that must be paid to participants who travel to a particular location for the session. Participants in an on-line focus group are compensated only for the time that they are participating; there is no travel associated with taking part in a focus group on-line.By communicating with participants over the Internet rather than by mail or phone, an international population of participants can participate in research surveys or focus groups. Time differences and slow mail systems pose no impediment to conducting surveys of international populations. This allows manufacturers to research the global market for a new product rather than developing the research foundation needed to roll out a product in one country at a time. Significant amounts of time and money can be saved by using more-efficient research methods that speed new products to market.The rise in use and availability of communication technologies has...

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