Marketing research

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HOWARD T. LEWIS Harvard University It should result in more stable operations on their part, giving them a larger return and assuring me of more dependstandpoint of industrial buyers, the men able sources of supply. I believe in marwho spend their company's money for keting research because the more my materials, fabricated parts,supplies, actual and potential suppliers know equipment, and repair parts and small about me, my requirements, my policies tools, and who buy these things not for and my problems, the better off we both re-sale but in order to assure the con- will be. tinued operation of the factory These various types of industrial goods are not The Meaning of "Quality" bought by the same procedures, decisionsStated very simply, procurement conregarding their purchase are not par- sists of getting the right materials at the ticipated in by the same people, and the right time in the right place and at the problems regarding their acquisition right price; it is the best possible comvary considerably. This complicates any bination of these four factors that makes analysis made by a research organiza- a goodbuy. This is pretty general, but tion, just as it limits to some degree note that it starts with "right material." any generalizations regarding the pro- What is this thing we call "right qualcurement pattern as between various ity"? Quality is that which fits a prodcompanies. Yet there is an emerging uct to a given use. The products vendors over-all pattern, and the basic principles have to sellare not simply good, they are are much the same in spite of necessary good for a given purpose, and the word and inevitable modification of their ap- "quality" is meaningless apart from the plication to specific situations. particular uses to which the buyer inAs an industrial purchaser, I am fully tends to put them. Furthermore, "qualconvinced that intelligently conducted ity" is a combination ofcharacteristics, marketing research by suppliers bene- not merely one characteristic. Moreover, fits me as a buyer. It should reduce the specific combination finally decided the waste and the cost of their distribu- upon is almost always a compromise, tion and hence the prices I have to pay; since the particular aspect of quality to it should increase the efficiency of their be stressed in anyindividual case marketing program; it should bring to depends largely upon circumstances. In my attention new products or materials some instances, the primary considerathat might otherwise escape my atten- tion is durability. In other instances, the tion, and show me new and better uses lifetime of the product is not so imfor those materials I am already buying. portant; efficiency in operationbecomes more significant. Certain electrical sup* A paper read before the Chemical Marketing Replies will suggest themselves as illustra^ search Association, March 30,19Í0. 14 is usually cussed from the the MARKETING researchviewpoint of disseller; this article deals with it from the

THE JOURNAL OF MARKETING tions. While a long life is desired, it is more important that the materials alwaysfunction during such life as they may have than that they last indefinitely. Or again, assuming always a certain dependability in operation and a reasonable degree of durability, the ease and simplicity of operation may become the determining factor. Thus, it is not essential that a typewriter last indefinitely; therefore the mechanism of the modern typewriter is such as to make it dependable under allordinary usages. Given these two factors, which are more or less standardized among various types of machines, the determining factor is the ease with which the machine can be operated. What constitutes a satisfactory quality, therefore, depends largely upon what a person is seeking in particular goods. But if "best quality," technically speaking, is that combination of physical and chemical...