The role of market research

by The Times 100 on Monday 21st February, 2011

Last week Edinburgh Airport was named as one of the top five airports in Europe for providing customer service and facilities. The other airports listed in the top five were Malta, Porto, Zurich and Copenhagen. Customer feedback was measured and collated from 209 airports worldwide to compile the list. Managing Director of Edinburgh Airport, Kevin Brown, said, '2010, with its ash, snow and other challenges, was a difficult year for the team at Edinburgh which makes this feat all the more impressive.' (BBC, 16th February 2011) The importance of market research in helping to deliver first-class customer service cannot be underestimated. We wouldn't know customers' views about Edinburgh Airport if it weren't for the market research that was carried out in those 209 airports.

For Zurich, the worldwide financial services group, market research helps it to understand what potential customers want from their insurance company. Based on a combination of primary research and secondary research it developed Zurich HelpPoint. This encompasses the different ways Zurich delivers for its customers, helping to meet their needs. The results of the market research found that the organisation had to provide advice to customers; be fair, fast and easy to do business with; deliver on promises and engage with the customers in a way that made they feel valued.

By understanding exactly what people wanted of an insurance company, Zurich was able to plan and implement a strategy that it summarises as 'customer centricity'. Over 170 new HelpPoints have been created to give Zurich customers better service and, in return, Zurich believes the changes will lead to greater customer retention and increased value of the Zurich branch. Continuous tracking and evaluation of the HelpPoint programme, including customer satisfaction surveys, will allow Zurich to continue to find out more about customer requirements and launch new ways to help them in the future.

Questions
1.Define market research.
2.Describe what is meant by primary market research.
3.Explain the advantages of primary market research
4.Using the Zurich case studies, find examples of primary market research that the organisation used when developing Zurich HelpPoint.

Answers
1.Define market research.

  • Market research is the systematic process of gathering and analysing primary and secondary data about customers and their relationship with products and brands.

2.Describe what is meant by primary market research.

  • Primary market research involves finding out new data. Methods of collecting primary data include observations, focus groups, interviews and questionnaires.

3.Explain the advantages of primary market research.

Advantages of primary market research are:

  • It is directly relevant to the needs of the organisation.
  • It is up-to-date.
  • Competitors will not have seen it.
  • It is reliable.

4.Using the Zurich case studies, find examples of primary market research that the organisation used when developing Zurich HelpPoint.

Examples of primary research carried out by Zurich are:

  • A sample of 7,000 customers, non-customers and insurance intermediaries were interviewed to find what people thought of the company and what they expected from Zurich and the insurance industry.
  • Internal primary research took place within Zurich through 45 workshops where staff identified how the business could differentiate itself from its competitors.

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