The discussion above regarding doing research right shows that good marketing research, especially when it involves formal research projects, requires strict controls in order to produce relevant information. Being relevant means the probability is high that the research results reflect what is happening now or might happen in the future. But following the right procedures to produce a relevant study does not insure the results of research will be 100% correct as there is always the potential that results are wrong.
Because of the risks associated with research, marketers are cautioned not to use the results of marketing research as the only input in making marketing decisions. Rather, smart marketing decisions require considering many factors, including management’s own judgment of what is best. But being cautious with how research is used should not diminish the need to conduct research. While making decisions without research input may work sometimes, long-term success is not likely to happen without regular efforts to collect information.
Additionally, risk in research extends to research produced by others. As we discuss in the Planning for Marketing Research Tutorial, the research process often includes using information initially gathered by other sources, such as market research firms. However, in many instances the methods for collecting this information may not be fully disclosed, thus questions exist regarding research validity and reliability. Marketers using research collected by third-party sources should do so with a reasonable level of skepticism. In fact, it is wise for marketers to always make an effort to locate multiple information sources that address the same issue (e.g., two or more sales forecasts reports). A good rule-of-thumb for all marketers is never to rely on one source for making definitive statements about a market.