The Functions of Advertising Departments: Advertising agencies employ research for both strategic and evaluative purposes. Strategic research enables the agency to better understand how consumers use a product or service and how they regard the product or service. Strategic research also determines the types of people most likely to buy the product. That group of people is called the target market. Advertisers have limited budgets so knowing who is most likely to buy a particular product helps them spend their advertising budget more efficiently. Evaluative research is used after the advertising has run and seeks to determine how well consumers remember the advertising message and how persuasive it was. Evaluative research is expensive, and as a result, many advertisers do not employ it. Instead, they try to measure the advertising’s effectiveness by analyzing sales results.
Agencies use both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Agencies employ qualitative research to gain an initial understanding of the marketing situation (see Marketing). This research method uses open-ended questions that allow consumers to explain their values, beliefs, and behaviors at length. One of the most common qualitative research techniques is the focus group in which a moderator leads a small group of consumers in a candid discussion of a particular product category, service, or marketing situation.
Agencies use quantitative research to determine a final course of action. This type of research uses close-ended questions in which answers are selected from a set list. This enables the researcher to determine the exact percentage of people who answered yes or no to a question or the exact percentage choosing answer a, b, or c. One of the most common quantitative research techniques is the survey in which researchers use a questionnaire to gain information from a large group of people, called a sample. Statistical studies show that if the sample is large enough, about 1,000 people, and is representative of a particular group (for example, working mothers who buy disposable diapers), then the findings from the sample are considered true, or statistically valid, and can be extended to the entire group of consumers in that category. The Functions of Advertising Departments: The findings provided by quantitative research are therefore conclusive in a way that qualitative research cannot be.