A market research plan is the systematic study that deals with the gathering and analysis of the concerned data to assess the role of a certain company in the market and persuade the customers to by their products. Marketing research assist the companies to design better strategies for future with respect to customer behavior (Pickett, 2010).
Marketing audit: It is a systematic and comprehensive evaluation of a company's activities and the results achieved due to its capabilities .In order to carry out marketing research one must understand the role of marketing audit in research.
PURPOSE OF THE AUDIT (Wal-Mart)
Marketing audit is necessary because the Wal-Mart has to compare its performance with the constantly changing market environment. There are certain micro and macro environmental factors that affect the business and marketing operations of the retail business of Wal-Mart largely. A detailed description of them is as under:
Microenvironment: Micro environmental factors are the internal factors of the company that have a direct impact on the Wal-Mart's business operation. The company has control over these factors and by controlling these factors; the company can improve its performance (McDonald & Leppard, 1994)
Customers are the beneficiary of the goods and services that the companies offer to them against monetary and other considerations. All companies need customers therefore their products and services should be according to the customers need and want. A number of researchers has reported that customer oriented companies are the most successful one in the business world today. It is because of the fact that Wal-Mart easily built brand loyal customers who do not switch to other brands easily because the basic aim of Wal-Mart is to provide the best quality at the cheapest price.
Due to increased competitive environment, the company should select a specific market and target the specific customers to get profitability and customer value that leads to customer loyalty.
Employees are the contractual or permanent workers who do specific activities of the company. These specific activities make the job specification of every employee. In return, the Wal-Mart gives monetary benefit to the employees and uses the term associates for them rather than employees. A company must hire those who can take part in the progress of the company with their skills and experience.
Suppliers are the individuals or businesses that provide raw materials to Wal-Mart to carry out the business activities. Retail and wholesale industry are usually of high importance that give shipment to the vendor and do not have direct interaction with the customers. Suppliers have direct impact on the customers (Hayes, Dassen, Schilder, & Wallage, 2005). Their poor service can lead to poor quality manufacturing or late production that will eventually influence the company's good will. Smooth functioning of the suppliers is necessary for Wal-Mart to sustain in the competitive environment.
4. Marketing intermediaries:
Marketing intermediaries work as the representatives that help Wal-Mart to sell the product to the final consumers. Marketing intermediaries include agents and merchants. They keep the finished good in the warehouse and later sell it to final consumer. Wal-Mart has to make good relations with them also because they have the power to influence the customer and give them suggestions about certain products and services.
Financers are those persons or companies who invest large amount of money in the businesses. They have a very important role in Wal-Mart because they provide liquidity to the company that is very important for further business growth and implementation of the business plans. Stockholders, financing companies and banks provide finance to the companies against certain terms and conditions. The stockholder get ownership of the company against the finance but the decision-making power remains with the executives (Cangemi & Singleton, 2003).
Public is a group of people who have the potential to influence the company positively as well as negatively. Media public includes newspaper, television; internal public includes board of directors, managers and workers; financial pubic includes banks, stockholders and investment houses. Wal-Mart has to keep good terms with the public by manufacturing such goods that are not harmful or else their existence will be endangered.
In order to be successful in the market, Wal-Mart has to give the customer more satisfaction with its product to get more customer value. Company has to select the best marketing strategy that suits the company's need as well s the market requirement. Competitor rivalry is a common factor that should be observed while doing the market audit as it has a significant impact on a company's performance and profitability.
Macro environment: Macro environmental factors are the external factors that are uncontrollable for the company. These factors bring opportunities and threats for the company therefore Wal-Mart must have complete awareness about them and the related change that may occur in these factors with the passage of time.
1. Political Factors:
The overall political system of the country has great influence over the stock exchange of the country that ultimately influences the businesses. Foreign investors and domestic ones invest their money after have satisfaction with the political system of the company. Under problematic law and order situation, increased tax levels, and high privatizations neither the business nor the entrepreneurs can flourish.
2. Economic Factors:
Economic factors include income level, inflation rate, import export regulations and the economic system of the country (capitalist, socialist or communist).
3. Social Factors:
It includes the demographics, lifestyle and cultural values of a certain region. The dress code of the Asian women is entirely different from the western women. Therefore, the retail business should keep this in mind before selecting the products for sale. It means that those products should not be selling in those areas where they are prohibited due to religion or culture (D'Souza, 2009).
4. Technological Factors:
It refers to the advent of advance technological application in the business world that creates opportunities for the company to compete because of differentiation and get higher customer value. For example, I.T and internet have brought revolutionary changes in the operations of Wal-Mart.
5. Legal Factors:
Laws are the basic rules according to which any country's companies run their business activities. Like, the employment law secures the labors form injustice, safety laws secure the consumers from having harmful products. Therefore, it is imperative that Wal-Mart should obey all laws of a country.
6. Environmental Factors:
These factors have concern with the natural environment and ecosystem that is usually disturbed by the human activities. Recycling and the promotion of green activities is its prime activity.
SCOPE OF THE AUDIT:
Strategic planning is necessary to achieve short-term and long-term objectives of research. It refers to the resources that are required to complete the marketing audit. The researcher has to make the plan of market research according to the resources available.
Some of these required resources are below:
Human Resource: The individuals who make up the workforce of Wal-Mart are the human resource. These resources include all the recruited staff. In order to complete the marketing audit successfully, one must have the authority to mingle with the recruited staff and get their views about the activities of the company.
Finance: To have the finance is another key factor that is necessary to carry out the marketing audit. Finance is necessary to do the research and collect associated data for authentic research result. Financer for the research can be the shareholders of the company who want to do the performance analysis of Wal-Mart. The marketing research plan should be budget-focused and cost minimizing (Nijssen & Frambach, 2000).
External Resources: Apart of human resource and finance, the researcher needs assistance of the market research firms as well who are professional in conducting market audit for the other retailing companies. Researcher can seek guidance from them to carry out market research.
In case of less availability or unavailability of any of the above-required resources, the researcher should have the contingency plan to continue the research rather than leaving it incomplete.
DATA COLLECTION PLAN:
Related data is the basic key for research. This part refers to the ways through which one can get data to carry out the research. There are several ways to collect data and several types of data available to carry out research. Their description is as under:
Objectives of Data Collection: Related data collection is necessary for the research purpose to obtain information and make correct opinion because of the data collected. Some of the objectives are:
To understand the management issues
To analyze the economic importance
To provide comparative tools for the policy makers
To assess the availability of resources
To assess the social performance
To provide information to the public
Secondary Data: Secondary data consist of the information that someone else has collected before for his own purpose and now others are using that information for their own definite purposes.