In this form of research the marketer tries to determine if the manipulation of one variable, called the independent variable, affects another variable, called the dependent variable. In essence, the marketer is conducting an experiment. To be effective the design of causal research is highly structured and controlled so that other factors do not affect those being studied.
Marketers use this approach primarily for purposes of prediction and to test hypotheses, though it can also be used to a lesser extent for discovery and explanatory purposes. In marketing, causal research is used for many types of research including testing marketing scenarios, such as what might happen to product sales if changes are made to a product’s design or if advertising is changed. If causal research is performed well marketers may be able to use results for forecasting what might happen if the changes are made.