Using market research to improve consumer focus
An England & Wales Cricket Board case study

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Page 4: Market research methods

The starting point for the market research involved developing appropriate market research methods. The first step was to gather secondary information. Secondary information is often called 'desk research' and is frequently the starting point for any research. This has already been collected by someone else, often for another purpose. It often represents therefore, one of the cheapest and easiest sources of information.

If you want to find secondary data on the web, type in the area you are researching into a search engine together with words like market research or report.

Secondary data will probably not meet all of an organisation's needs, but is a very good starting point for research. The data gathered in this way often helps to define and clarify problems within the context of the research objectives. Following on from that, an organisation can look to generate the more closely focused primary data it requires.

For the ECB, secondary data helped to identify who the existing and potential consumers of cricket are. In addition to existing consumers, other groups of potential cricket consumers included:

  • children
  • women
  • young men
  • ethnic minorities
  • inner city communities.

At the same time, the secondary data identified some vital details about the changing marketplace for cricket. For example, cricket has done rather well in the face of both direct competition and indirect competition, with attendance at international matches rising substantially in recent years and record numbers of people playing different types of cricket.

However, this achievement has to be viewed against a background in which individual membership of county cricket clubs (formerly the backbone of England's domestic professional cricket) has been falling. The numbers attending domestic competitions have also fallen, and there has been a 17decrease in attendance at county matches over the past 5 years. The research also confirmed that the majority of current county cricket spectators tend to be males who are middle-aged or older and from a middle class background.

Having gathered the secondary data, the rest of the research involved collecting primary information. Primary research is research undertaken to meet the specific requirements of the organisation and can be expensive. The data collected is first-hand knowledge, 'straight from the horse's mouth'. The primary research collected for the ECB was both quantitative and qualitative.

The quantitative research involved at-home interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 4,104 adults. Likert scales (i.e. a way of rating a series of questions from 1 - 5: very serious = 5 to not at all serious = 1.) were then used to discover the interests of different groups of consumers. For example:

Q1Which of the following currently describes you best?

  • I love cricket
  • I really like cricket
  • I don't mind cricket
  • I don't like cricket much
  • I don't like cricket at all
  • I hate cricket
  • Don't know

Q2On a scale of 1 to 5, how much would you say you know about the game of cricket?

  • 1 = nothing at all
  • 2 = not a lot
  • 3 = a bit
  • 4 = a fair amount
  • 5 = a lot

Qualitative research was conducted by a researcher, talking face-to-face with groups of people with similar characteristics e.g. women, young men, ethnic groups. This research revealed, among other things, that some groups of consumers felt that there was a lack of buzz and excitement associated with cricket compared to other sports, particularly with the county game. Younger and potentially new cricket audiences made clear that they wanted forms of entertainment with enough excitement to justify the leisure time and money they would invest in by purchasing a match ticket.

For cricket to appeal to these new and different groups of consumers, the game would have to be offered in a new, different, more exciting format. The research also showed that many customers who had a positive first experience of cricket would come back for more.

England & Wales Cricket Board | Using market research to improve consumer focus
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