While demographic change occurs slowly, marketers can begin to see indicators of potential change by identifying small trends that may suggest a larger shift over time. By paying close attention to these trends organizations can prepare their long-term marketing strategy to be ready when the shift becomes more apparent.

To illustrate how a marketer may respond, let’s consider the demographic characteristic birthrate. In some countries the overall birthrate is declining while the average age of the population is growing (i.e., people living longer). For a company targeting the youth market with sporting products this trend may suggest that in coming years they will see a shrinkage in demand for their products within the youth market as the population of this market declines. On the other hand demographic data may signal to the company that another market (i.e., older market), which they may not have previously targeted, may hold potential for new products. If it is predicted that the shift will occur over several years the marketer can slowly move into the new market by offering products geared toward older adults.

Researching your market

Many organizations find the markets they serve are dynamic with customers, competitors and market conditions continually changing. And marketing efforts that work today cannot be relied upon to be successful in the future. Meeting changing conditions requires marketers have sufficient market knowledge in order to make the right adjustments to their marketing strategy. For marketers gaining knowledge is accomplished through marketing research.

In this part of the Principles of Marketing Tutorials we begin a multi-part discussion of research in marketing. We explore what marketing research is and see why it is considered the foundation of marketing. This tutorial also looks at the elements of good research including factors that distinguish good research from poor. We examine the risks associated with marketing research and see why it should be used to aid decision-making, but never used as the sole reason for making decisions. Finally, we look at the trends shaping marketing research.

Note that in this tutorial we use the terms “marketing research” and “market research” interchangeably. Many feel there is a distinct difference, with “marketing research” covering a broader array of research efforts associated with marketing decisions while “market research” is specific to understanding nuances of a particular market. For the purpose of this tutorial we treat these as the same.