The art of asking 'why'

Date of publication: June 15, 1970

Author: Leslie Collins


It is a common misconception to view motivational (or qualitative) research as a special brand of market research. But, primarily, it is not a special branch of knowledge or methodology, but a skill. Some people have more aptitude for it than others - we all have some - and a background of formal study or knowledge - as in psychology and the social sciences - may be conducive to developing it. But it remains essentially a skill, and one that all marketing men engage in, whether more or less effectively. Both formal market research and the less formal motivational research are part of the same general operation: the intelligence work of marketing, informing its general strategy and specific campaigns. Within this general dispensation, the special emphasis of motivational research is to enable the marketing man to handle the abstractions of quantified market research with a sound sense of their relation to ’real life’, with a genuine and rounded sense of the feelings and motives of the consumer. From study in depth of the case histories of specific consumers emerge the generalisations as to attitudes and behaviour, with which the particular investigation is concerned. Broadly speaking , quantified market research yields descriptive intelligence, while qualitative (or motivational) research yields explanatory theory, although there is some overlap of these functions.

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