Now you see it, now you don't

Date of publication: August 1, 1998


We are increasingly aware of the need for total quality management approaches in the more process-oriented aspects of market research such as data collection and tabulation. However, the way in which we communicate study findings to clients and the general public is perhaps the most critical part of what we do. Over the last few years there have been significant advances in computer graphics which have given the researcher enormous powers of data presentation and the audiences greater expectations in a world that is moving away from the written word and numbers to graphic and symbolic representations of information. This paper maintains that researchers may not yet be exploiting the new media to its fullest by observing some of the fundamentals of design that are most important to clearly conveying findings. Inspired by the great variance in presentation styles and quality, a market researcher and a graphics designer examine the environment for graphics communication in market research. The paper covers the basic theories and practice of visual graphics; the tools available for the production of quality communications; the uses and abuses of graphics as they apply to the researcher and the future role that graphics can play in the research industry. It concludes that while there are no rules for good or bad graphics both can be recognized, but only the good is ultimately remembered. Researchers must appreciate the growing need to develop their ultimate end product for marketers and not for other researchers. By integrating quality graphic communications into the TQM process the industry will improve its ability to communicate and therefore the perceived value of research.

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