Today's Internet technology and applications development process is replacing many traditional research methods. Some of the most notable changes are taking place in traditionally low-technology areas. One such area is market research, which encompasses many activities that can be improved through the use of new technology. Conducting market research traditionally has been painfully slow and labour intensive, requiring a significant investment by manufacturers. By using the Internet as a research delivery mechanism and data collection tool, manufacturers can expedite the market research process and reduce costs. Innovations offered by the Internet may give device manufacturers greater reason to consider market research as an integral part of the product development process. The main way to perform market research through the Internet is e-mail. It potentially offers researchers many advantages such as easy access to world-wide samples, low administration costs (both financially and temporally) and it is unobtrusive and friendly to respondents.
Moreover, response rates to e-mail questionnaires appear favourable as does the ease of distribution and response times. However, e-mail's application as a research tool is constrained by its, as yet, limited and biased population of users (in terms of age, income, gender and race).
Technology-based tools, such as the Internet, can provide benefits at each stage of the market research process. For example, the full-time accessibility of the Internet facilitates effective communication between market research organisations and survey panels or focus groups, participation can be maximised, and the time required to complete research can be minimised. By increasing accessibility, greater efficiency can be brought to many market research programs. Generally, market research process can be categorised into four basic task areas: survey and focus group design, recruitment of subjects, data collection, and data analysis.
There are many advantages of using the Internet / e-mail as a research tool. In particular...