THE NEED FOR AN AUTHORITATIVE
CONTEMPORARY MARKETING RESEARCH REFERENCE BOOK*
“I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore, Toto”
There is no question that
the way companies market themselves and their products is changing. The classic model of marketing is broken and no new broadly
accepted alternative has arisen to fix it. In a sense marketers are driving blind and historical wisdom is no longer fully
applicable. We can feel famous economist, Joseph Schumpeter’s,
“creative winds of destruction” blowing right in our faces.
Want evidence? Just look at how digital convergence (the unification of cable, broadcast TV and radio, computers,
the Internet and “smart” telephony) changes everything it touches. In media alone DVRs alter TV
viewing patterns, the explosion of cable channels deeply segments TV viewership, XM/Sirius is stirring up the radio market,
new, ubiquitous and ever changing information sources driven by the Internet, GPS, smart phones (with their untold thousands
of apps), tablet PCs and digital readers have created new forms of media behavior. Reading habits have so changed that newspapers
and magazines are dying and the future of book publishing is very much up in the air. Vastly populated social networks
are now key drivers in creating new trends and quickly changing communications platforms allow us to be instantly in touch
with everyone, no matter where we and they are. Moreover, not well-known is that in 2009 the amount of airtime time accounted
for by text- messaging on mobile networks exceeded the amount of time spent talking.
Alvin Toffler wrote Future Shock in 1970 and diagnosed an uncomfortable personal disorientation caused by “too
much change in too short a period of time.” That was 40 years ago; he wasn’t even close!
The Challenge for Marketing Research
We’re fond of saying: “Like it or
not, the world keeps spinning.” We’ve already pointed out the radical changes impacting marketing in general and
media in particular. Not surprisingly, the marketing research discipline has also been impacted by dramatic shifts in business
thinking and practice. Consider these thoughtful opinions about how marketing research needs to change:
“Without transforming our capabilities
into approaches that are more in touch with the lifestyles of the consumer we seek to understand, the consumer-research industry
as we know it today will be on life support by 2012.” (Kim Dedeker, V-P External Capabilities Leadership, Global Consumer
and Market Knowledge for P & G, Advertising Age, 9/15/2008) “I don’t know if
we are going to have a choice but to move away from survey research. We continue to torture consumers with boring and antiquated
research methods. (Donna Goldfarb, VP-Consumer and Market Insight for Unilever, Advertising Age, 9/15/2008)
"Conventional research which tries to understand the consumer through direct questioning---such as why
they buy specific brand—has limited effect. We are trying to generate insights by trying to be the consumer
(italics added) in order to generate a more emotional and power understanding. Our approach: 1. assumes much information is
hidden, 2. uses different information sources, 3. entails much higher personal involvement (with the consumer) to win empathy,
4. involves the real world environment, 5. tries to become the consumer.” (Diego Kerner, Managing Partner, The Brand
Gym, Brand Strategy, 3/2008)
Further, Doug User, Ph.D., a senior VP with Widmeyer Research
& Polling, speaks about how consumer fragmentation makes it harder to find and understand target audiences. "Traditional
methodologies were designed for a different culture than today. Traditional methods have become less reliable and raise issues
of data quality. We need new metrics and methods: video blogs, online portals, emotional measurement, data harvesting, analysis
of comments in online forums, and private online communities.
"Mary Ann Packo, the CEO of Millward Brown, one of the largest marketing research firms in the world sums of the challenges
affecting the future of market research this way: “For marketers, the challenge is building brands in a fast changing
world; for consumers, the challenge is deciding between so many options and choices; for researchers, the challenge is –
given all this – how to connect marketers and consumers.”
John, a senior executive with MasterCard, feels that time and financial pressure is reducing the quality of the data researchers
collect. He is particularly concerned that consumers who belong to Internet research panels may become professional respondents
and, while demographically representative, are not attitudinally representative of the target population. Ty Albert, a Managing Director of Guideline Research, agreed that in the future “triangulation”
will be required in the way we collect data. They feel that short bits of data gathered from several sources, employing scientific
sampling models will come together to provide insights. And they argue that the industry needs more creative ways of engaging
respondents in providing data and fewer 35 minute telephone surveys on attitudes and usage.
An Opportunity for an Authoritative
Reference on the Latest Developments in Marketing Research
So how will the practitioners, users
and teachers of marketing research understand and address these kinds of challenges? It won’t be via current marketing
research texts and courses, which typically have very little to say about the actual practice of the discipline or, if they
do, lag the real world by many years. Nor will it be via authoritative handbooks, which must be quite broad and largely tradition-oriented
by their very nature. And it certainly will not be via refereed journals, whose articles are too theoretical, technical, and
abbreviated and which rarely focus on a single practical topic.
And although there are developments aplenty, the truth is that as yet there is no authoritative information on the
profound advances currently taking place in marketing research. These advances are many and will require a cadre
of expert contributors, under skilled and experienced direction to present and integrate. We already know that these
exciting developments in marketing research are not about new statistical techniques.
they are about:
- New ways of gathering and using data such as from social networks, via
mobile telephones, on web 2.0 sites and through on-line focus groups.
- Emerging forms of data such as physiometric measures, observational
approaches that include photography and videography and monitored digital conversations that produce almost instantaneous
and using consumer emotions to build companies and brands.
- The use of data mines, which combine behavioral data, demographics and
attitudinal research and thus allow companies to target customers with pin-point accuracy.
- Maintaining high quality data that is representative
of their target audiences.
- And, just as
important, a new philosophy about the role(s) that marketing research and marketing researchers must achieve for the discipline
to reach its full potential.
This discussion is adapted from MORE Guerrilla Marketing Research by Robert J. Kaden, Gerald
Linda and Jay Conrad Levinson, Kogan Page, 2009