What’s in a name?

Written by Al DeCotiis, Chairman and CEO

Apple?  Phone company or a fruit?

Coach?  Transportation or Luxury Goods Retailer?

Football?  As in Europe (soccer), or the game played in the United States?

Confusion in names.

Market Research faces the same dilemma. Not only do most “lay” people not understand what Market Research is, but often believe it to be related to understanding and managing the stock market!  We have heard many people attempt to explain the profession in these irrelevant terms.

As Market Research professionals, we very often address the need to brand and advertise products to consumers, yet we take none of our own counsel.

What do we do and what should we call it?

This evolution in our profession is not the result of a radical change in the process of the “scientific method” as laid out by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Rather, it is the result of the radical increase in access to information and the many ways of analyzing and presenting this information to make strategic and tactical business and marketing decisions.

Industry trend observers tell us that the marketing is moving toward data integration — we have always integrated data. Historical transactions, secondary and qualitative combined with quantitative research, now, enhanced by social media, mobile, digital and internal operating information.

They tell us the industry needs to be more consultative—we have always been consultative, but there is always room for improvement on this one. And the ease, speed and, most important, the development of specialized marketing application techniques allow us to make more precise and “impactful” recommendations regarding our clients’ business.

Too often we confuse the myriad of data collection methods and analytic and technology-enhanced delivery of information with what we really do…make recommendations regarding specific business alternatives to our clients…whether related to how to innovate products, position brands, advertise and communicate with consumers and/or measure and improve upon the customer experience

Are we data scientists?  Consumer insights professionals?  Analysts?  Consultants?  You get the point.  For some people the name is everything.  For most of us – results are what we seek regardless of what you want to call the people who deliver them.

We believe that there is an underlying trend which capitalizes on all of the above. That trend is we must become decision-application driven.

For example, we must build analysis tools and models that derive the true essence of what is driving brands and how we track and manage change. We must innovate in line with our brand values and promises. We must develop copy and ad testing communication abilities that link to drive brand equity. We must assure that the customer experience is always living up to the brand and communications promises. And, all these metrics must be aligned and integrated into a seamless “platform”. The logic of this approach coupled with adherence to the scientific method is applicable to all areas of what we now refer to as “market research.”

Researchers Reborn!

We must use technology combined with analytic and modeling tools to derive scientific answers to the most important questions our clients present to us. We must adopt a role as Market Scientists, not merely Researchers, with models as sophisticated as those that determine the tensile strength of construction components. Compare this type of sophistication to that of what we see in the DIY marketplace today and you will see a clear path to a successful future competing against technology-only solutions versus technology-enhanced analytic and modeling-based solutions. This is perhaps the most important value we can offer our clients, and this is how we need to reposition what we do.

Marketing Science is an opportunity to rebrand our industry as relevant and of unique value to the successful marketing and business initiatives of our clients.

Research is reborn every day at Phoenix MI, always pushing the Industry by developing and applying new approaches, tools and techniques – resulting in faster, more disruptive insights.  Are you doing the same in your business?

Are we Marketing Scientists?  Or, what name would you choose for our profession today?



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