Using market research to develop a product range
A Coca-Cola Great Britain case study

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Page 5: Market research

Market research means systematically gathering, recording and analysing market data. Primary research involves going 'into the field' (e.g. house-to-house or street surveys). Secondary research involves using existing sources of information to research the market such as published reports or articles, or searching the Internet.

There are two main approaches to 'primary' market research:

  • quantitative research: collecting information from a broad population sample e.g. by conducting extensive surveys, used when Coca Cola GB wants to gauge appeal across a wide audience
  • qualitative research: working with small 'focus' groups. This involves far more detailed investigations, e.g. gathering a small group of 'typical' consumers to taste test products or to talk about their preferences and experiences of using different products. Qualitative research, whilst not representative of the views of the general population, provides greater insight into 'why' people think what they think. 

Coca-Cola GB'sresearch process has five stages:

1. Identify opportunity

  • Does it fit into an existing or new product category?
  • Who are the target consumers? What do they want?

Method: Desk research.

2. Explore solution

What is the best solution?

  • a new product?
  • a product extension?
  • a new packaging concept?
  • a new design?

Method: Qualitative research using focus groups and in-depth interviews one-to-one.

3. Measure suitability/effectiveness

Evaluate the relative appeal of alternative solutions in terms of meeting consumer requirements.

Method: Quantitative research through face-to-face, telephone/internet interviews

4. Test Market

As it is very expensive for a company to launch a new product, before going for a full market launch it often pays to try out new product ideas in a 'test' market. This may be launching the product in just one region of Great Britain, with just one retailer or conducting a 'Simulated Test Market'.

Method: Quantitative research from participants in a test sample of consumers who physically live with the test product for a period of days. There are three stages:

1. concept research - to determine whether consumers like the 'concept' of the new product

2. product attributes - to determine whether the actual 'product' offering matches the 'concept'

3. volume assessment - to determine whether consumers will actually buy the new product and what, if any, existing products it will replace.

5. Track market performance

This involves tracking the product's success once it has been launched e.g. by recording sales figures, numbers of people familiar with the product, etc.

Method: Quantified continuous rolling study with consumers and/or analysis of Electronic Point of Sale data (sales information gathered via retailers' tills).

Coca-Cola Great Britain | Using market research to develop a product range