The Professor Has a Question

Posted on 01. May, 2008 by in iGrok Research

Recently, the professor was wondering – is “market research” dead? No, not the practice, skills, techniques and outcomes of market research, but the popular notion of market research.

Colleague Gary White of Pacific Crest Marketing points out the proliferation of firms that say they offer Consumer Insights (rather than “market research”), and the Professor notes the abundance of professionals with Consumer Insights in their job titles, and open positions that likewise are billed as having Consumer Insights and the like as their responsibilities.

In addition, there are several firms on an upward arc that don’t interview consumers at all, but rather scan the Internet to see who is saying what about a given product or service. Thousands of consumer inputs are gathered without a single survey being conducted.

Pundits such as Malcolm Gladwell have taken broadsides at market research, with what seems like a less than complete understanding of the practice of market research. Focus groups in particular are attacked, without realizing that no research provider represents the findings of focus groups as scientific or representative of the entire population, but rather as hints at the sentiments of consumers.

So is market research dead? No. But the image of our profession is threatened by those with a lack of understanding of what we do, and perhaps by our clinging to decades-old conventions in reporting and describing what we do, when in fact our stock in trade is applied thought leadership. Perhaps we need to reinvent the market research wheel and make it more exciting for the current crop of clients out there.

And that is what we’re doing at C.A. Walker. Stay tuned!

To contact The Professor, email Dr. Kevin Gentry, Group Vice President at C.A. Walker Research Solutions.

    The Professor has a doctorate in Social Psychology from the University of Southern California, and has been practicing market research for many years.

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