A new look at old data

Date of publication: September 1, 1966

Author: Stephan Buck


The conventional methods of analysing market research data are useful, but have their limitations. They consist, usually, of the construction and examination of one-way tables by characteristics like social class, age of housewife etc., together with the associated two-way and three-way tables. This approach leads, particularly with the aid of an electronic computer, to an overwhelming amount of tabulated results and it is doubtful whether these are inspected in any systematic way. The task which faces the research agency is to remove from the client the burden of having to examine a mass of tabulated results, whilst at the same time providing him with a guarantee that useful data has not been overlooked. Methods of isolating the most important aspects are discussed in this paper and applied to material collected on the ownership of consumer durables; the techniques are however applicable to a wide range of data. An application of the Belson method of matching population samples is considered, but this is also found to be limited to some extent for the present purpose. This is followed by a discussion and application of Discriminatory Analysis, in order to isolate the important characteristics underlying observed gradients in ownership. Simple but effective models are then fitted to ownership levels calculated for the various segments of the population indicated by the important characteristics.

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