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The Superior Adjective of “Market” Research – Stand Up For The Industry

This article is my direct response to Kevin Lonnie’s blog post on the GreenBook blog titled “The Limiting Adjective of ‘Marketing’ Research“.I have to admit that I’m somewhat perplexed as to why so many long-term market research professionals would want to  re-brand “marketing research” with a new name! If you do your “research”, you’ll notice that in the last few years “market research” has spiked as a mainstream term that is understood by many people outside of this industry. However, the one correction I have to make is that our industry is more accurately and more often described by “outsiders” using the more general term “market research” and not “marketing research”. Hasn’t the term “market research” also been successful in bringing all of us together who have common interests?

The other day on Radio NewMR Paul Child from Join The Dots said something that really made me think. He said, “We have grown up as in silos … Let’s look to connect with people outside our industry, let’s look to mix up our influences, let’s look for inspiration from all quarters.” Is changing from the term “market research” not just another attempt to “silo” ourselves by reinventing an industry term where one already exists? Why not just broaden the definition of the term “market research” to include all of the related activities we do? Aren’t all forms of competitive intelligence and market intelligence really just market research?

To be honest, I’ve never been able to provide a good reason as to why we need so many terms for so much of the same thing. Whether it’s things like text analytics, neuromarketing, social media research, web analytics, CRM database analysis, survey research, focus groups, consumer insights, business management consulting, etc, etc, etc … we’re collecting information/data in different ways and analyzing it in different ways to provide actionable insights … which can fall all under the term market research! The one purpose for many of these different terms is that there are many large egos in this industry that strive to prove that what they do is better or different from what most of us do, when in fact we all do pretty much the exact same thing! Of course some of us provide better insights than others or approach the problem in different ways, but overall that doesn’t mean it is something different altogether.

I’m sure most of us have done a lot of branding research and understand just how detrimental a re-branding with a name change can be. Just because Old-Spice wanted to change its image did it change its name? No! A word is defined by how a society uses it, just ask a Linguist. I’ve been in the market research industry for only 3 years, but in that time I have always thought of our industry as multidisciplinary and knowledge seeking in order to provide actionable insights. Who cares if the methods and tools have changed?! Do you think we should have changed the term “statistics” into something else just because new theories or tools were developed? Of course not!

One of Kevin Lonnie’s points is about how market research groups have been formed online that are called things like “Next Gen Market Research” or “NewMR” and that somehow these titles are a “band-aid” solution to the limitation of the term “market research”. I think the original point of these groups has potentially been lost with Kevin and many of their members. The names of these groups should stand for forward movement in the market research industry by constantly challenging it with new ideas. In ten or even twenty years from now, NGMR can still maintain its title and its purpose of bringing innovation and outside thinking to market research.

I’m here today to stand up for “market research” and to say that it’s time for all of the industry whining to stop and for industry professionals to finally stand up for the industry term we have all come to use.

So, where do you stand?


Sean Copeland is a certified marketing research professional (CMRP) known for his broad knowledge of the research workflow, his disruptive approach to problem solving and for building strong client relationships. In over 5 years Sean has developed, sold, executed, and managed hundreds of consumer research studies using a variety of new and traditional research methodologies.

Contact Sean Copeland:

T: 647-269-5085

E: sean@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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