These are some problems of Sunny Days Holidays, a Manchester-based company offering packaged holidays. Due to these problems the company has been relatively unsuccessful.

Turnover went down in recent years, holiday destinations offer little real scope for growth and as a result of this the company finds it difficult to achieve shelf space for its brochures in showrooms.

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As a precaution a marketing consultant was hired by SDH in order to comment on existing problems and to give advice in which direction a marketing strategy should be brought forward.

To sell their products a holiday offerer like SDH has to be aware of the market they want to target. Market research lays the foundation to overcome this.

For the purpose to carry out market research, marketers developed a system to structure required steps. This system is the so called marketing research process.

The process 'consists of four steps: defining the problem and research objectives; developing a research plan; implementing the research plan; and interpreting and reporting the findings'1.

SDH�s managers and marketing researches have to be careful when bringing the research forward. The company did just a little marketing in the past years and in order not to 'obtain the wrong information, accept wrong conclusions, or ask for information that costs too much'2, they have to work close together. The problems SDH has are already defined and mentioned above.

The next step is to set the research objective. There are three types available.

Firstly there is the exploratory research which is defined by 'marketing research to gather preliminary information that will help to better define problems and suggest hypotheses'3.

Secondly there is 'marketing research to better describe marketing problems, situations or markets, such as the market potential for a product or the demographics (see below) and attitudes of consumers'4. This is called descriptive research.

The last type is the causal research. This research has the purpose to 'test hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships'5. The descriptive type is in my eyes the most appropriate one SDH could use. It would give clarification about the potential of tailor-made holidays and explain why there is no repeat business.

It now has to be planned how, and what kind of information is advisable to gather.

There are two different types of information.

Primary data which 'consist of information collected for the specific purpose at hand' and secondary data which is 'information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose'6. For SDH it is advisable to start of collecting their own primary data.

Even though this collection is an expensive choice it makes sense because the new products or the reshaping of current holiday offers are about to be established. In addition, the company must have data about their former customers which could be included into market research (secondary data).

Once those questions have been answered SDH has to decide on a suitable research approach. After studying several methods, I came to the conclusion that the qualitative research, the quantitative research and the survey research are the best suited approaches for Sunny Days Holidays.

The qualitative research defined as 'exploratory research used to uncover consumers� motivations, attitudes and behaviour. Focus-group interviewing, elicitation interviews and repertory grid techniques are typical methods used in this type of research'7. This method would give SDH reasons why, for instance, there is no repeat business, as well as what customer's viewpoint of tailor-made holidays is.

To carry out a quantitative research SDH could make inquiries about consumer attitudes and opinions on SDH. This could be brought forward via mail or personal interviews on former customers to allow statistical analysis.The most suitable research approach is in my eyes the survey research. This attempt would allow SDH 'to gather primary data by asking people questions about their knowledge, attitudes, preferences and buying behaviour`8.

This method could be carried out through the use of postal questions, email surveys, telephone interviewing or individual interviewing.

Concerning the establishment of tailor-made holidays I would additionally like to introduce the focus group approach.

'A small sample of typical consumers under the direction of a group leader who elicits their reaction to a stimulus such as an ad or product concept'9; in SDH`s case the organisation of tailor-made holidays. Various approaches could be additionally used, but those stated are in my opinion best suited. After results of the research are available a research plan has to be presented and implemented.