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A Management Guide to Market Research by James M. Livingstone (auth.)

By James M. Livingstone (auth.)

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3) The facile assumption that it is easy to frame questions which are easily understood and will yield answers which are precise, unambiguous and easy to process without loss of accuracy. It is almost impossible to generalise about secondary source material - that is, information which is already available, provided that it can be tapped. The last qualification sums up the problem: namely that, for one reason or another, available sources are not always used as fully as they might be, although it is obviously cheaper and more convenient to use what is already known rather than expensively to rediscover the same knowledge by a field survey.

The reader is probably familiar with the concept of the product life cycle; namely that if a product has a distinguishable and relatively short period of acceptability - for example, a few months or a few years - the type of market and quantities demanded will vary. A conventional division is into four stages: initial acceptance; rapid growth; maturity; saturation and decline. Throughout the whole life cycle the product is moving gradually from the status of a unique product to a common commodity.

Random sampling is the ideal, but there are very practical difficulties. Two have already been alluded tonamely that it is not always easy to get a complete list of the population from which to draw a sample and that there is no certainty of a l 00 per cent response from the individuals in the subsequent survey. Voter or housing rolls may have to be used as a substitute for a cross-section of all adults or of all housewives in a community. If professions or trades are being sought, catalogues may be available, but since they are generally assembled for other purposes than market research, their value and accuracy may vary.

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