Increasing sophistication of ONLINE MARKETING methods generally has led to a more sophisticated approach to the question of consumer needs. Whereas Consumer Research was, at one time, solely concerned with establishing the how, the why and the when of the purchase of goods or services, it is now more interested in the use made of them by the ultimate consumer. Indeed, research now concentrates a people's composite activities as distinct from a single activity or process.

We have already referred to the importance of identifying new consumer needs in order to formulate new products and services to satisfy them. It is by a study of the behaviour patterns of people that their unrecognized needs may be established. Modern research endeavours to discover how people live and work in their homes, the times of day at which they take their meals and the particular meals at which they eat certain foodstuffs. Efforts are made to find out how kitchen equipment is used and the part it plays in the general activity of, for example, the preparation of a meal or dealing with the family laundry. The findings of research of this nature is a guide not only to the future design of such equipment but also to their methods of promotion and presentation to the buying public.

Consumer Research seeks to establish the total number of potential consumers for a given product and then to subdivide them by sex, age group, marital status, occupation, social class and geographical location. Bearing in mind that a consumer is not necessarily the same as a customer, it is the function of Consumer Research to find out who actually buys the product in question and where it is bought: at the corner shop, or the co-operative store, at a chemist's or a grocer's or at a multiple store. Finally, it seeks to establish when the product is used and how it is used.

Next Step: Case History Conclusions

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