Virtual Shopping: Breakthrough in Marketing Research

Virtual shopping has been very popular since the 1990s with much marketing it has done for most companies and individuals on the internet. Eventually, a breakthrough of Virtual shopping was explored as it has been shammed and counterfeited by other marketers online. (Burke 1996)

Technology was booming, marketing research techniques was out-of-date as the tools used by marketers are not only expensive, are easily manipulated by competitors, appears unrealistic and most of the times incapable in providing the sufficient information needed.

The technological advancements should offer new hope, opening opportunities in marketing research and beyond, with microchips making personal computing possible, this has thus far stimulated Virtual Shopping simulation for most companies. This has given managers an easy avenue to promoting products and promotions, packaging and merchandising at the same time. This has also been a tool to change the companies approach to a variety of strategic issues such as entering new markets and responding to new emerging competitors.

Burke (1996) believes that managers need to develop ideas that would actually break through the clutter of messages in the mass media selling and promoting products for purchase. With these growing innovative ideas and concepts it has thus created a greater risk with more companies opting to use marketing research as a means to test shoppers and how they would react to new ideas at the same time it can reduce their chances of falling in the risks that may arise.

The current Practice

Since the breakthrough, it is very important to examine research techniques currently employed by most managers. In this instance, a traditional test market is considered. And in going about this test market, marketers need to test the consumer’s acceptance of any new product locally and perhaps internationally.

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Companies can produce a sample run of the product, Marketers call this methodology the high external validity where a product is sold in a natural, competitive context to a representative group of consumers. This process however, is very time consuming and costly. A test may even take up six months to a year or longer to complete and can cost millions of dollars. In fact, it usually takes 30 to 60 days just to get the new product onto store shelves. What’s more stressing in this process is that when competitors discover the test, they may try to disrupt it by increasing their own promotional activities, or they may copy the idea and rush their own new product to markets. By the time the research has been completed, the market has often changed, and the results are uninformative.


Another approach that can be considered is a controlled field experiment. This is where a research company sets up distribution for the new product in a representative set of test stores while maintaining current conditions in a matched set of control stores.this  is generally faster and less expensive. However, there are also downfalls of this method whereby experiments are not as realistic as the traditional test market the  Retailers are reluctant to manipulate the selection and merchandising of their products in ways that might disturb their patrons. Furthermore, it is unlikely that one retailer will want to share the results of these studies with other retailers.

A third marketing-research approach is to use questionnaires, surveys, or interviews to ask consumers what they like and dislike. Although there are several such methods for testing new concepts, the most common is the focus group are popular because the results are easy to interpret and the method is fast, inexpensive, flexible, and confidential.

It is important to inform organizations and managers on issues such as the effectiveness of marketing communications programs, the appropriateness of pricing strategies, the success of new products, and the effectiveness of distribution. Marketing research helps marketing managers to keep up with all of the changes taking place in their markets so that they can meet the needs of consumers. Iacobucci MM4, states that marketing research is very crucial in the sense that it obtain many insights about marketing and customers.


Reference list:

Burke, R. (1996). Virtual Shopping: Breakthrough in Marketing Research

Iacobucci MM4, Marketing Management, Student Edition

by: Jacinta Tupuola

ID: 212369336



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