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Research role growing in market

In the first instalment of a five-part series Noel Dyson finds out who’s who in market research in WA.

MARKET research plays a crucial role in a business’s marketing plans and there is no shortage of firms in Western Australia that can help meet that need.

According to the WA Business News Book of Lists 2003 list of marketing and market research companies, there are 10 firms stating market research as their main offering in the top 40 in the State.

There are a further seven marketing consultancies that list market research as one of the services they provide.

According to the list the largest market research firm in WA is Shopper Anonymous, ranked at number four.

That is followed by Data Analysis Australia, which specialises in statistical analysis at five.

While it provides services to the market research sector DAA is equally at home modelling movements at bulk cargo jetties.

One of its most recent projects involved analysing the effect the Water Authority’s advertising had on Perth’s water consumption over summer.

That involved not only looking at the water consumption figures for the summer months but also taking into account things such as rainfall and temperatures.

The next largest market research firm in the list (number eight) is Research Solutions, followed by Service Audits & Market Research at number 15, Patterson Market Research at 20, Colmar Brunton at 22, Asset Research at 26, Elder Market Research at 36, West Coast Field Services at 38 and Tourism Research Services at 40.

Firms in that list are ranked by the number of consultants they have.

Marketing experts say that market research plays a vital role in the creation of marketing plans.

Indeed, before a company undertakes a marketing plan it is advised to gain the best under-standing of the business environment it is in and how its products and services are rated by consumers.

Research can help uncover gaps in the market that a company can exploit. It also can tell it how its products and service are perceived in the marketplace.

There are fundamentally two types of research – quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research provides companies with hard statistical numbers, whereas qualitative research looks at people’s perceptions of things.

DAA consultant Jody Thompson said that to glean the best information from any research effort it was important to have a good statistical methodology.

She said statistical techniques could also be used to combine other data sources such as census information and client databases.

Colmar Brunton managing director David Bruce said buying market re-search was about getting value for money.

“You may spend $10,000 on a piece of research and get nothing out of it that helps you make the decision you need to make, but you might have spent $15,000 and that got you the information you needed,” he said.

“The challenge for us and market research buyers is finding out how to get the best return on investment.”

A subset of the market research field that is growing in popularity is mystery shopping. This helps companies identify how well their customer service systems and shop layouts are performing.

Shopper Anonymous CEO Jonathan Winchester said his company serviced about 1,000 businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

He said one of his company’s main clients was FAL. Another player in the mystery shopping field is Service Audits & Market Research.

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