Is the tail of market research wagging the dog?

Date of publication: September 1, 1994


In the 1980/90s, with the development of evermore sophisticated computers and software packages, Market Research has moved itself into an industry that is more concerned with the accuracy of predicting the value of Events than with, what Market Research was created for, viz. the prediction of Outcomes. This is particularly the case in Brand and Advertising Tracking, where modelling has become the order of the day, without due regard to, at times, the validity of the variables used as input. Not only this,but Modelling also requires the identification and use of Independent and Dependent Variables, whereas experience has shown that, in reality, there are no Dependent Variables, that are of sufficient reliability in predicting Outcomes. The paper will aim to show that, in order for Market Research to be able to revert back to its original role we have to question: 1. The validity of traditional questioning. 2. Whether Market Research is about Modelling or whether it should be a Philosophy, i.e. a Study of Truth. 3. Whether the objective of Market Research is to predict Events occurring, or, whether it is about predicting Outcomes. 4. Whether traditional Independent/Dependent relationships can predict Outcomes, or whether we have to apply Stochastic principles, which are only concerned with Independent Variables, and the gaining of a deeper understanding as to how they relate to each other. 5. Whether the future of Market Research should involve a change in emphasis from the measurement of Values to the understanding of their Significance and, therefore, Consequence. 6. Whether Market Researchers are Statisticians or Marketers.

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