The Five-Step Marketing Research Approach and How to Use It?

The Five-Step Marketing Research Approach and How to Use It


The five-step marketing research approach is a problem-solving approach used to determine gaps in the market and possible problems that are solved by implementing the appropriate tactics. Someone that is very versatile should be appointed for this process. 

The Five-Step Marketing Research Approach and How to Use It? Identifying the problem, analyze, gathering data, interpreting, evaluating, and accessing data, solving the problem.

Figure 1: Five-step marketing approach cycle illustration- This graphically depicts the five-step marketing approach cycle according to the step discussed in detail below.  

Five-Step Marketing Research Approach

Summary: The five step marketing research approach as the title suggest comprise of exactly fives steps namely,

  • Step 1: To identify the problem or gap in the market,
  • Step 2: to analyses the information,
  • Step 3: to obtain problem-specific data,
  • Step 4: to interpret the data and lastly
  • Step 5:  to solving the problem with the best-chosen solution. These steps will be discussed in more detail below. 

The steps: In order for the it to be a success all the below mentioned step needs to be followed and executed correctly. 

Step 1: Identifying the problem or problem recognition– In this step, extensive research has to be done to determine problems or short cummings in a marketing plan or strategy. In the first step, the problem has to be defined.  The foundation for the whole process is established in the first step and thus it is the most important step to take also to take it correctly. This step entails conducting research internal and external to a firm. Also, allocating resources to designated areas within the firm such as human resources and management. This step is very beneficial in terms of initiating a plan for better success. In step 1, A team of very innovative and open-minded individuals has to be put together to determine the exact problems. A team leader has to be identified to direct the team in the right direction and manage the process with a great deal of integrity.

Exceptional leadership is the key ingredient to the success of the first step and overall process. Although the step is the most difficult one to overcome and continue, this step also involves digging deep. I f a problem is not so openly visible experts have to step in, people have to brainstorm and do additional research. An abundance of creativity is needed. In this step, it is crucial to identify the objectives of the research conducted to avoid dead-end or unnecessary efforts. The research done must also be refined to establish the problems it will be addressing.

As many questions as possible should be asked at this stage, the who, what, where, when, and how. In order to embark on or launched the right marketing strategies, the right data and information should be gathered. This phase focuses on the development of a research plan or overall strategy on how to address the defined issue or problem. The structure or model for implementing a marketing research project is a research strategy or approach. It outlines the procedures required to obtain the information requested, and its aim is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, identify potential answers to the research questions, and provide the necessary information for decision-making.

Step 2: Analyze information – This phase focuses on the development of a research plan or overall strategy on how to address the defined issue or problem. The structure or model for implementing a marketing research project is a research strategy or approach. It outlines the procedures required to obtain the information requested, and its aim is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, identify potential answers to the research questions, and provide the necessary information for decision-making. analyzing information takes time. To analyses something entails to highlight the most important and summarize it into useful information. Everything that was discovered during the prosecco has to be recorded.

The marketing plan has to be broken down into various elements and critically evaluated. This step involves forming a conclusion from the information gathered. To accomplish this thorough investigation has to go into different parts of information gathered, for example, customer insight and analyzing or adjusting the formation of buyer persona’s and so forth. A low-cost way to gather insightful customer information is through analyzing buyer habits through their rewards and loyalty cards which keeps track of buying records.  Another way is by interviewing customers in person with direct marketing moreover, conducting a survey using free tools inline such as Google forms, Survey Monkey or This will be the easiest and quickest way to get results and information. Analyzing this information will require debating conclusions, to study results, examine and interpret feedback from customers, singling out the significance, interpret possible causes or effect of certain events and establish effectiveness or ineffectiveness of methods and approaches.

Clients can also be contacted directly through emails and push notifications. Other tools that can be utilized are google and Hubspot analyses. These tools will be used to analyses tests conducted.  In other words, what type of content is more effective will be determined. This step can be done with minimal to low costs. This step has several sub-tasks including analyses of primary and secondary research data. Primary data is typically obtained from the source where the data originates from and is considered to be the best form of analysis data since its raw data. On the other hand, secondary data is information or data that has already been obtained from primary sources and made publicly available for investigators and researchers to use for their own study. It is a sort of information that in the past has already been acquired. Another sub-step is conducting qualitative research, including surveys, observation, and experimentations, furthermore designing questioners and tweaking the sampling process. 

Step 3: Gathering of problem-specific data – Collection of data should be valid and unbiased. The data collection should be specific otherwise it is useless. Demographical and psychographic data have to be collected. Demographical data is the socio-economics information of individuals or a target market. It is based on factors such as age, race, gender, income, and so forth. Demographics analysis is a frequent business tool that helps identify and determine a target market more accurately. Psychographic data is personal to every user or customer of a business. It often includes analysis of customer preferences, attitudes, beliefs, morals, and so forth. It also consists of people’s personalities, opinions, interests,s, and lifestyles.

Aside from evaluating the psychographic data and demographic data, marketers should also include Geographic data. Geographic data in marketing is used to determine the number of population characteristics. Geographic data should also be gathered and included in this step because it gives useful insight and is location-specific.  Geographic data is especially used in database marketing. With the advent of new data and information arising marketers has to be careful when focusing on and sorting out problem-specific data. When analyzing data, the business mission and vision have to be kept in mind. A/B testing can certainly be conducted at this stage. To emphasize again, that most of the information and evidence that is gathered, would be quantitative (Numerical data or details) versus qualitative, which would be informative and empirical, in marketing research.  

Preferably, the business should be collect a combination of the two data forms. Critical observation takes place in this step, as a data collection process, reflects on an issue that is well known. Here in the early stages of a research project, we are not referring to the casual observations that may inspire ideas. Studies tend to witness or document what the topic does normally with the observation process. The business doesn’t want the observation to affect the actions of the subject, thus they have to sidestep and observe in the distance. After the secondary data analysis, the next step is to organize a systematic research project and collect primary data.

Step 4: Interpreting, evaluating and accessing data – This information that was collected in the previous steps has to investigate and comprehended correctly. When this is done the process entails looking for patterns, as opposed to specific pieces of information. Until gathering the data, it should not be analyzed to identify trends based on previous assumptions when analyzing the data. Any information of data won’t be beneficial if it is not interpreted the right way. Interpreting it the right way includes having adequate knowledge of the environment or industry your marketing and targeting in. A marketer should be able to tell the precise meaning and reasoning behind certain numbers in data. Within this step there are four sub steps to take, firstly, the data has to be the data has to be organised according to date, relevant, quantity and quality.

Secondly, the data has to look at over and over, notes must be taken and the data has to be read. After that conclusions can be made and lastly the data transferred into useful information. The way to respond to these conclusions drawn will be determined in the next step. Interpreting information is not done without considering different opinions and getting different perspectives. The comparison also has to be made to previous data or information collected. input from everyone in a business will be appreciated during this stage. When it comes to quantifying data it includes rating and ranking possibilities. On the other hand, when it comes to analyzing qualitative data it involves determining the relevance and superiority of the data or specific part of data information. 

Step 5: Solving the problem or fulfilling the gap – finally after doing extensive research collecting, analyzing and evaluating information or data a conclusion can be made, the right strategies can be identified, the right resources can be allocated and the implementation process can begin. This is an ongoing process and although you are on the last step it does not mean you’re done, on the contrary, it is only the beginning of new problems that might arise. Being a marketer means trial and error is constantly happening. And the individual is constantly tested and challenged. Even in an established market there will always be a gap to fill, a shortage that big companies don’t always meet.

The last step should be utilized to allocate adequate resources to the right departments. Also, identifying if an old strategy, method, or approach can be used or should a business implement or come up with a new strategy. It all comes down to what is the best option for the business in that specific moment of time or particular situation. In this last stage where the analysis is finished, as well as the owner will use the findings to refer to the marketing plans of their organization. It’s when a business is about to launch a marketing strategy or strategy. If completed successfully, the research will prove to be very helpful in designing business plans and enhancing the services of your organization by solving client problems. Managers use the research findings in this phase to make marketing choices based on research not only conducted but proven as well. The marketing manager should be able to apply the results in marketing campaign planning, the option of a target audience, or the mix in the 4Ps when the study phase is completed. The organization has lost analysis time and resources if the research does not have evidence to help inform these decisions. For each of the previous steps mentioned, this final component or operation must be accurately anticipated and forecasted.

Additional information:

  • When launching a new campaign, this five step marketing is the best approach to take.  Furthermore, when introducing or launching a new product in the market this approach is the go to process to follow.  
  • Remember sub sections- It’s important to remember that each step has sub sections and step. In order for a step to be taken successfully all the sub step has to be taken as well. 
  • Evaluate steps afterwards- the process has to be evaluated, to determine and avoid and possible pitfalls that will be discussed I detail below. 
  • This process has multiple functions- firstly to start a new business, to renew business mode or reposition, to recruit people for a new job position, to launch a new product or to create a new product and lastly, the description creation of current and prospective problems or gaps in the market. 
  • The forgotten 6th step, believe or not but there are a six steps. This step is to review the process and make any adjustments if needed, also restarting the whole process all over again because a business is all about growing. This marketing research approach will be needed more than once. 

Pitfalls of the five step marketing research approach:

Lack of communication- data and information can be incorrectly interpreted when there is a lack of communication. Any business operation requires good communication between managers, employees and business owners or stake holders to operate fruitfully. 

Misinterpretation- if the wrong person is appointed to do the job, the whole process will be a failure. There must be a strict procure when choosing or forming a team for this job. The wrong way of doing marketing research can make or break a business. 

Alternative methods and approaches- thinking this is the only way to do marketer research Is wrong. There are a lot of alternatives way that should be if not necessary to be explored. 

Rushing– this approach takes time rushing it will result in having to do it all over again from step one or jumping to the wrong conclusions. There should be enough time allotted to the designated steps to ensure a smooth ongoing procedure. 

Forgetting the minor details– when taking this approach, a major pitfall is not paying attention to minor details. 

Lack of knowledge and skill- People appointed to do this job should know how to do it and do it well. They should know the ins and out of the business to scout the tiniest details out and identify problems accurately. 

Attitude– believe it or not but marketing research is crucial in any business. A business should not have the attitude that this market research is not and does not play a big part in generating revenue. Likewise, the ambition to serve customer should also be there and the discovery of what the customers really wants and needs comes from the success of proper market research. 

Overspending- One can easily overspend on marketing efforts especially when the market is competitive. Overspending will result in a lack of resources to implement tactics to solve the real problem. Initailly someone is appointed to forecast the expenditure of any business operations, nowadays spending can become reckless and a lot of people is overworked and underpaid.

Underspending-  Its key not to underspend, this occurs when the budget is allocated to what manager seems to belief is more important. This will lead to miss or unidentified problems that can develop in even bigger problems per se. 

Inefficient time- Yes time is money but its also worth a lot more. The more time you spend on paying attention to detail the more accurate the forecast and interpretation of data will be. Taking the time to do this approach, will benefit a business greatly. 

Time- Spending too much time on one step or too less will end in failure. Furthermore, spending too much time on unnecessary or irrelevant data will be a total waste of time and other resources since time is money. 

Too extensive research- too much research is done that will stifle the conclusion made, or so much reassert is done and it’s so broad there is not specific data to focus on and thus, no conclusion can be made. 

Information overload– when conducting surveys, it should be short, sweet and concise. The participant or receipt of survey must not feel overwhelmed when completing it otherwise they might rush it that will lead to false information. 

Irrelevant questioning- When focusing on a specific problem, specific questions should be asked not any questions. The data collected and compiled should be as accurate as possible and this is only achieved through accurate research and sifting of qualified, quality data. 

Microeconomics vs Macroeconomic– the method in which this approach is used can be determine if the problem is internal or external to a business. This approach will be the same but the way it is executed will differ immensely. It will be a mistake to approach it the same way when it evidently is different. 

Not involving all the stakeholders- All the stakeholders should be notified of any changes and producers or business operations taking place day by day. Without notifying them will result in loss of trust. Uninformed stakeholders might withdraw from doing business ever again and partnerships will be destroyed. A business owner has to remember they also invested a great deal to secure the success of the business ad any changes will either impact them directly or indirectly, their consent is pivotal. 

Late changes- Changes to the process that comes unexpected will have a negative impact on the whole progression and momentum of the plan. Everything has to organised and in place to avoid unexpected changes which can result in restarting the whole process. 


This marketing research approach should rather be seen as a cycle as illustrated at the beginning of the article. Since it is an ongoing process and the last step does not mean you’re done. It is apparent that this process is very useful when executed correctly.  The Five-Stage Marketing Research Methodology is an approach to problem-solving that is used to recognize market shortages and future challenges that are addressed by the implementation of appropriate tactics. One who should be designated for this process is someone who is very flexible. As the title suggests, the five-step marketing research method consists of precisely five steps, namely, step 1: to define the problem or void in the market, step 2: to analyze the details, step 3: to obtain problem-specific data, step 4: to interpret the data, and finally step 5: to solve the problem with the best solution chosen. And the forgotten 6th step, review and start the cycle all over again. 

also read: The Complete Guide to Sustainable Marketing

The Five-Step Marketing Research Approach and How to Use It?

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