The Evolution of Market Research—A Brief History, Part 2

The Evolution of Market Research — A Brief History, Part 2

In Market Research, Qualitative Market Research, Quantitative Market Research by admin

In our last blog, we looked back over the past 100 years to see how market research has evolved. We previously covered the decades 1920-1960 and in this blog we’ll look at the decades between 1970-present.

When considering the changes and transformations, and how that applies to market research, what is noticeable is the solid foundation that market research stems from. It is a field based in science and psychology. Many market research firms combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies into their studies giving clients a much fuller picture about what drives consumer behavior.

Let’s continue on our journey looking at the brief history of the evolution of market research.

1970s: New models for understanding market segmentation are realized. In the seminal article, “Industrial Market Segmentation” the authors Yoram Wind and Richard Cardozo outlined a new model for categorizing customers that influenced tactical and strategic decision making in industrial markets.  By organizing customers into segments, they argued that you could then research commonalities that are relevant to understanding and predict their responses to marketing stimuli. While the initial paper was focused on industrial markets, the premise of their thesis was applicable to many other categories. Market segmentation, sometimes referred to as customer personas, is one way that market researchers will organize a study.

1980s: Qualitative research got a big boost from the theories put forward by Martin Fishbein and IcekAjzen who developed a conceptual framework for explaining and predicting social behavior in humans. They created the multi-attribute attitude model, which gives trained moderators and researchers a way to measure and assess consumer attitudes. The insights gained by using such a tool gives brands and companies an idea of how to position their products and services.

1990s-2000s: You can say that during these two decades market research went from analog to digital. For the first time, it was now possible to track online consumer behavior. The large databases of information that were now available to be analyzed for patterns was a game changer in how companies position and market their brands. While it took a few years to sort and consolidate all the digital data into anything that made sense to companies, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it wasn’t all that long ago that such powerful tools and insights weren’t available at all. It used to be that commissioning a market research study was cost prohibitive because there was no time saving or streamlined way to conduct a study. With so much of our daily lives now spent online, from shopping to working to socializing, researchers can employ a variety of tools for making better sense of the patterns from our digital footprints.

2010s-Present: As smartphones became ubiquitous, there are now many ways that market researchers can capture ‘in-the-moment’ feedback using mobile ethnography and other ‘real-time’ tools. Quantitative market research has improved dramatically with so many people now owning a smartphone. Researchers have a number of digital and online tools at their fingertips, and we predict that more studies will continue to be conducted online.

Market Research is built upon science and understanding human behavior. The models and tools that were created over the many decades form the foundation that current market studies are built upon.  With more digital tools available to researchers, it is possible to reach broader audiences across larger geographical distances. There is no better time to invest in market research!

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