Presenting Research Findings

This lesson is designed to be used in the classroom or as a homework task to support the teaching and learning of marketing and market research in BTEC Business.

Presenting Research Findings

Having accurate market research data is a vital part of the marketing process. The data collected will be used by a wide variety of the functional areas of a business for a range of different purposes.

As a result, the information will have to be presented in different ways to suit different audiences. This resource will look at some of these different methods of presentation.

Getting market research data is one thing - making sure it is accurate is another, and presenting it appropriately for your audience a third point!

Task

Your task will be to take some market research data and devise a suitable way of presenting it to deliver to a marketing planning meeting of different functional groups who will be present at that meeting.

You can role-play the task by convening a meeting of your group, assign them different roles reflecting different functional areas and make the presentation to them to explain what the findings of the research are.

Remember that you must evaluate the research and the method of presentation to meet the assessment requirements which form part of this unit.

The Market Research

Levi's Jeans

Levi Strauss is one example of a company who got it wrong. In the 1980s they tried to branch out into denim suits - the market research hid the real picture with regard to consumer tastes! Copyright, Matthew Bowden, stock.xchng

You are working for a US-based company producing and shipping personal computers (PCs) worldwide. Your market research team has done some preliminary analysis and has given you the following data.

Production Level of Business PCs in the United States
Date Units (000s)
2003 48, 060
2004 53,275
2005 64,970
Forecast Global Growth rates for the PC Market
Time period % growth rate
Q3 2006 17.9%
Q4 2006 18.2%
Q1 2007 17.4%
Q2 2007 14.1%
Forecast Production level of PCs in the United States
Year Units (000s)
2006 75,350
2007 84,475
2008 96,380
Forecast Sales of Consumer PCs including Laptops
Year Units (000s)
2006 12,190
2007 11,150
2008 12,500
Forecast Global Spending on IT Hardware
Year Expenditure ($ billion)
2006 20.1
2007 20.5
2008 21.9
2009 29.5

Methods of Presentation

Below is a summary of different methods of presenting data. You can use as many of these methods in your presentation as you choose but remember - the skill is in making sure that you get the message across to your audience.

1. Statistical Methods

Measures of Central Tendency

These refer to what are commonly known as the mean, median and mode. The mean or arithmetic mean is a measure of the central tendency of a set of data. It is found by dividing the sum of the data by the number of items of data.

For example: if sales revenue of a company are £250,000 in 2004, £275,000 in 2005 and £205,000 in 2006, the average revenue would be 730,000/3 = £243,333.

The mode is the value which occurs most frequently in a set of data.

For example, in the data set, 5, 10, 4, 5, 16, 6, 7, 5, 4, 12, the mode would be 5 since it occurs three times.

The median is found by arranging the data into ascending order and selecting the middle value.

In the example above, we would get: 4,4,5,5,5,6,7,10,12,16. There are ten values in the dataset. In this case, the median is the middle value between the 5th and 6th piece of data - 5.5.

Range

The range of a dataset is the difference between the highest value and the lowest value in the dataset. In the example above, this is the difference between 12 and 4, so the range is 8.

Interquartile Range

A quartile is a quarter of a distribution of a data set. The lower quartile is the value 25% of the way through the distribution, the upper quartile the value 75% of the way through that distribution. The interquartile range is the range of the values between the upper and lower quartiles.

For example: in the distribution 4,4,5,5,5,6,7,10,10,12,16,18, the lower quartile is 5, the upper quartile is 10 and the interquartile range therefore will be the difference between these two values, 5.

Scatter Diagrams

A scatter diagram is a pictorial representation of data. It is used where a comparison is being made between two variables but where the value of one variable can be associated with a range of different values of the other.

For example: if we were looking at the relationship between advertising expenditure and sales of 10 different companies, an advertising spend of £5 million could have generated sales of 350,000 in three of the ten companies.

Scatter graph

In the chart above, we can see that three companies each spending £4 million on advertising brings different results whereas three firms who spend £5 million brings much closer returns in terms of sales revenue.

Time Series

Time series data simply means data that represents the behaviour of a variable over a period of time - the time could be seconds, hours, days, months, years and so on. Data is often presented as seasonally adjusted, meaning that differences in the data due to trends can be identified and smoothed out.

For example, sales per quarter, revenue per month, cost per hour are all examples of time series data.

Trends

It is often helpful when looking at data to identify the trend - essentially what is happening. Is the trend upwards, downwards, stable and how quickly things are changing, if at all, might be key things to identify from a dataset.

2. Written or Visual Methods

Market research information can be presented in written format. Generally the format will be either informal or formal. A formal report will conform to a certain style - some businesses may have a style that they will use consistently when presenting information, referred to as the 'house style'. In general, reports will be written according to certain conventions. You can get an excellent summary of these by looking at the Biz/ed study skills guide to report writing. (http://www.bized.co.uk/reference/studyskills/reports.htm)

A report can also be presented orally or through the use of some software programme like PowerPoint. Other software is also available to help demonstrate facts and figures, such as Macromedia Flash.

Textbook

Data can be presented in a variety of formats for a variety of different purposes. The key is to remember who your audience is and what message you are trying to get across. Copyright: Carlos Paes, stock.xchng

When using any of these methods, however, there are a number of things to consider. If you are using PowerPoint, for example, what sort of room are you presenting in? Is it light or dark (this might affect how the colour scheme of your slide show might appear), and how far away are the audience? How many of your audience have visual impairments that might affect how they see the presentation? Over three-quarters of a million people in Britain have some form of colour blindness, and over 3.8 million in the US. Additionally, how many have some form of dyslexia that might influence the font you choose?

Should you have all-singing, all-dancing slide shows with spinning slide entry and sound effects? How much information should you give at any one time? Should you present all the bullet points at the same time or one at a time? (People have different learning styles that process information received differently). These sorts of things might have to be considered in using visual presentations.

Presentation

You will need to think about other aspects of presenting your information related to the equipment and the room, the lighting and so on - it's not that simple! Copyright: Ulrik de Wachter, stock.xchng

One other important aspect will be what equipment is available. If you are presenting you might need a laptop, projector, speakers, microphone and so on - are these available at the venue or will you need to bring them along yourself?

3. Diagrammatic Methods

Diagrams usually imply some form of chart presenting statistical or other data. There are a wide variety of methods some of which will be very familiar and others will be less so.

A brief outline will be given below but there is more detailed information on each available through the TimeWeb resource in the data section of Biz/ed. (http://www.bized.co.uk/timeweb/buffing/buff_picture_illus.htm#1a)

  1. Pictograms:
    • A pictogram uses images of the data to represent that data. For example, a pictogram representing car ownership in the UK might use images of a car to represent every 100,000 vehicles.
  2. Pie charts:
    • A pie chart represents the data as a proportion of a 360 degree circle. A pie chart is useful for small amounts of data but not very good for representing a large number of variables.
  3. Bar charts:
    • A bar chart represents the data as a bar - the height of the bar representing the size of the value.
  4. Histograms:
    • A histogram is similar to a bar chart except that the area of the bar and not the height represents the frequency. There are also no gaps between the bars.
  5. Frequency curves:
    • A frequency curve connects all the mid-points of a histogram and has these points smoothed out to make a curve.
  6. Line charts:
    • A line chart represents the data through connecting together the data as a line. Such charts make identifying trends relatively easy.

Limitations in Using Market Research Data

It is important to remember that having carried out market research, the resulting information needs to be treated with an element of caution as to how it is used.

The usefulness of market research data depends on its accuracy and reliability. This in turn depends on the methods used to collect the data. If these methods were flawed, the data itself will give a misleading picture and basing important decisions about future investment might be disastrous.

The following links provide some examples of cases where flawed market research led to problems for the businesses concerned.