As a portion of the final project portfolio, included below is each of our group members' individual reflections.
Reflecting on my term project, I know immediately the two points that I am inclined to share. These items have been very valuable to the foundation of my learning this semester and I have felt passionately about them since the semester started. First, through this project I have learned not how someone might conduct marketing research if one were to need to complete it, but how to do market research. Complete with trials and setbacks, this process of learning by doing, by applying the concepts that I have gathered from class and applying them to meet the needs of a real client in real time I have learned an incredible amount about both marketing research and business in general.
As is often said to me by my mentor ‘Business is about observing and responding to the needs of the customer, who often has little or no knowledge of the situation at hand. It is about anticipating a need, and responding to that need’. While I have learned through marketing classes that firms often profit from creating a need and not solely from reacting to a customer need, learning what the customer expects is extremely valuable. Through the iterative completion of this project, and through evaluating my time and resources in our project proposal, I have learned how easy it is to bring a marketing research project out of the scope of the research question or over budget. Additionally, preparing the presentation for this project has taught me well how to speak to someone outside my discipline who may not know a lot of the technical jargon used in the field. This experience brings business experience to my undergraduate degree, which I feel should be a cornerstone of an undergraduate business education.
Along with real-world, customer facing experience, I have learned through this project how to take an idea from theory through strategy, and into tactics. This is extremely useful and I have applied this framework to solve many problems. For example, in iterating our research question and establishing an underlying theory we were able to find that organization is affected by three main factors in our target market, but these factors are shrouded in an unwillingness to change organizational systems by our target market. If we would have made tactical recommendations to ensure that the product for example assisted in scheduling and efficiency without unearthing strategy, the product would have likely failed in market due to its’ inability to overcome organizational barriers. This lesson shows the strength of this framework, and has excited me to apply it in many more business and academic situations.
The process of coming up to our final recommendations was an intense one. Upon finding out what our product was going to be we were less than ecstatic because we honestly didn’t know anything about the bed and linen industry and this is something that we never really cared about. Relating this to my HR class, it’s hard to push and motivate yourself when you have to work on something that you aren’t interested in, and I think that was in effect when we started this project.
With honestly no clear vision of what we wanted to do and no proper understanding how to get started, we started anyways. We made some assumptions at first and assumed we knew the target market and what the problems would be already. After making those assumptions and feeling like we knew where to go, we started doing some basic secondary research and left it at about that.
By now, I started to understand our group dynamics and realize that we were all individuals who liked to do our own work and not really rely on others to work for us. This has proved to have its advantages and disadvantages. It was an advantage because we could rely on each person do their work when it was assigned or asked….but that was also the disadvantage; we needed someone to step up and direct us to where we were going and what needed to be done! Each of us was extremely busy with multiple group projects and each of us a leader in at least one other student organization (many of us two). So stepping up to the plate to guide the group in a forward direction was not really on the top of anyone’s to-do list. After we received feedback from the research question roundtable, Ben Vick started to have a vision of where we could take this project and he really was the driving force at pushing for us to get moving and giving us a direction to where we ended going.
So after getting the feedback from the class roundtable, we had a better understanding of what we were looking for and the methods we should use, so we hit the research again and formulated a better process. Through research tactics we learned in class, we decided that a structured observation would be a good method to use and reflecting back on that decision I feel that it was a great choice! We were able to really understand how people interacted with their items that they were organized with, and we were able to draw insights off of that. It was great because we could ask them questions about what they were doing, and why they did things and we noticed similar patterns between most of the interviewees.
Looking back over this process I definitely took away some key learning points and things that we could have done differently to result in a quicker and more developed solution. First if we would have listened to Seth off the bat, saying that you can’t make assumptions about and you have to base your decisions off of research and findings then we may have had a more accurate target market to start with instead of narrowing it down latter on.
When analyzing the interview process it was really clear to me how important it is to understand the questions you are asking and anticipate the analysis when designing the questions! This is something I feel we failed to do as we were developing the questions. There were numerous times during when I was having the observational interviews where I would have to explain further, or ask a follow up question to help answer questions in our project or that would help us uncover more information that pertained to our product. Being more proactive and future seeing would have been very helpful.
This research process has been very beneficial to me and my development within marketing. I am pleased with our results and I feel that we have come up with a very insightful and helpful solution for Karyn. I am proud how my group was able to pull it together the second part of the semester and I see the value in communicating and being on the same page and motivated to work.
I recall one of the first things Seth stressed was that the project was not going to be a linear process at all; that it would be iterative and there would be times when we’d have to jump ahead or go back to things we had worked on weeks before. I think it was appropriate for this to be mentioned early on, because even after hearing about this “iterative process”, I was still confident that my group could come up with a plan early on and stick to it. This was not the case.
I remember our first group meeting where we brainstormed ideas for what topic we ought to cover, and we ended up deciding on the topic of organization. Although this is what we ended up researching, the aspects of organization we looked at changed over the next weeks after that meeting.
Once we had our research question we all looked for secondary research. We found some good articles that helped give us some information. We decided it would be best to follow with structured observations. This is where things started to get non-linear. After conducting several observations, we realized our secondary research didn’t fully support our primary research… that maybe our focus of the research was not specific enough or focused in the right way. We had to go back several steps in the process and have another discussion at a group meeting about where we wanted to go, since the pieces of the puzzle were not falling into place perfectly. We were able to tweak what questions we wanted our research to answer, and go out and look for more secondary research.
We were able to successfully find additional secondary sources that supported our analysis of our primary research, and ultimately allow us to come up with a conclusion to our research and create the model we will be presenting to Karyn.
Although this is a simplified description of how things fell into place throughout the semester, it gets the point across. I went in thinking that we would come up with a research question, find secondary research, conduct primary research, and end up with the answer to our question. By no means was this the case… because the primary research we conducted didn’t support nor conflict, really, with the original secondary information we had… it was a complex situation of the primary and secondary information not really matching up well, forcing us to go back and re-think what exactly we wanted to accomplish.
In summary, the main lesson I’ve learned from this project is that in both marketing research and elsewhere, things don’t go as planned, but regardless, I need to be able to solve problems as they come up. I felt as a team we were able to do this and that is why we were able to successfully complete the project.
Our marketing research process was a very long one with a lot of steps involved. At the beginning of the process, I was not that interested in the project at all and thought I was going to have a very hard time caring about the project. However, as we delved deeper into our research I began to be more interested due to the nature of the process, and not the actual product itself. Tonight, at the end of the project, I have come away with two takeaways. The first is the realization of how truly iterative the market research process is. The second key takeaway for me is how quickly the pieces started falling into place, and how all of the different research we did really seemed to fit together.
When we started our project, we began by doing exploratory secondary research. After this, we thought we had a direction with where we were going, created a structured observation form, and began doing the structured observation. This was a difficult part of the process, because it was often hard to get the information out of the respondents that we wanted. Each respondent seemed to interpret the questions differently.
After completing a few structured observations, we redesigned the structured observation form to get more complete answers from our respondents. Redesigning the form set us back a bit because we had to start from scratch. Eventually, we completed many more structured observations and designed a model that we felt presented our findings. After completing more observations to test the model, we redesigned it again. Then, we tested our final model, conducting both primary and secondary research in order to use the model as our recommendation.
Our process was very much so iterative. We seemed to be consistently switching back and forth between primary and secondary research. The primary research that we conducted had to be changed and edited several times. Our original model did not hold, and we had to edit it several times before we decided we had a sufficient model. Our process changed throughout, and I realized how truly iterative the process was.
When I thought about our research process; I realized how different it must have been from other groups. Thinking about this has led me to realize that when researching, you can never follow a standard format. Even if you somehow are able to follow a standard format, you will always come out with different results. Each of the different groups in our class must have followed very different formats, especially since we all used different research methods and tactics.
When we were researching, at first things seemed to be moving very slowly. However, the more research that we got done things seemed to exponentially increase in our findings and where we were on the project. This was also interesting to me because each of the group members seemed to feel like we were in a different spot on the project. Each of the pieces started to fall into place, and eventually the project was finished. However, at our group meeting today it still seemed like we were all on different pages and had different perspectives on where the project was in its completion stage.
It was also interesting to me how each of my group members interpreted the findings differently, and seemed to get different aspects more in depth. For example, Ben and I really seemed to understand the model as a whole; while Matt and Adrian seemed to understand the different aspects of the model better. By combining our knowledge and thoughts we were able to put together a much better research project. Because of this, I feel like marketing research makes much more sense when you think about it in the context of other people’s thoughts. Because everyone understands things differently, it is really important to take different people’s perspectives into account when presenting information.
When analyzing the process and project as a whole, I realize how much I have learned. While I learned a lot about a product that I do not necessarily care about, the research process is where I really learned the most. By working together with other people and actually conducting research, I learned much more about it than I would have by doing textbook activities. The process as a whole started out very slowly, but exponentially expanded and we had a lot of information to work with. Finally coming up with a model that worked when we tested it was very exciting, and I am very happy with the recommendations that our group has come up with for Karyn.