What mother never told you about market research

Date of publication: June 15, 1992


This paper shares my observations about the way we conduct market research. No longer is market research seen as the scientific arm responsible for solving business problems. We are now the "give me a number" group. Market research should be the conduit between those people who use our products, and those people who decide how our products will be offered. We should transmit knowledge. We are both messengers, and soothsayers. Yet, today we have lost our capacity to interpret the buyer's voice by forgetting the basics. Instead of touching people, we create a set of icons that we at best venerate, ano at worse worship. These icons are statistics, sampling theory, the sanctity of testimonial data, and the more "sophisticated" the study, the better the results. Each of these icons will be discussed. The result is that market research is just one of many specialties to be dealt with by management. All is not lost. Knowledge of the market is not power; it is survival! It must be done. It we don’t do it, someone else will! It is just that basic. We are still the best equipped. For us to approach the dream of market research, we must never forget we're business men. We are not technocrats. Don't use research like a drunk uses a lamp post. Research is for illumination, not support. Numbers will continue to seduce researchers who have a limited view of their discipline. For those who view research as belonging in a row of neat little boxes, a compartment for every technique, it will be almost impossible for the big idea to break through the mechanized process. Though technique has its place, the most productive marketing research is always people oriented.

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