How Can Market Research Do Better In 2015?

Jan 21 2015 Published by neilgains under market research

It is now clear that the human brain is immensely complex and interconnected with much of its work unknowable and mysterious. This is hard for us to accept as individuals, including myself, and continues to be hard for the market research industry to accept.too  Perhaps that is why very little fundamental change has occurred.

While there have been great leaps in the technological interfaces used to collect data from research participants (and hurray that 2014 finally appeared to be the year that mobile data collection really took off), the fundamental processes have not undergone the radical changes that they need. Read more »

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What marketing can learn from search engines

Jun 16 2013 Published by neilgains under context

A recent article by Neil Perkins at OnlyDeadFish, talking about the future of search, is well worth reading for any marketer or researcher. For me, the most interesting part of the article discusses the increasing importance of context for search engines, referencing a talk by Will Crtichlow also called The Future Of Search. Read more »

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Researching, Fast and Slow

Jun 25 2012 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman provides a comprehensive and readable summary of how we all make decisions (probably the best overview you will ever read). In doing so he completely buries the already tarnished view of human behaviour as ‘homo economicus’ (rational decision maker) and demonstrates clearly and precisely that we are far from paragons of reason. Read more »

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Asking Questions Without Asking The Question

Apr 20 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

Curiosity has it’s own reasons (Einstein)

The lifeblood of market research is curiosity and curiosity is a great thing in all aspects of life (as Einstein said so eloquently on several occasions). Market researchers are very adept (and trained) to ask lots of questions, but I think we ask far too many and should ask far fewer and be smarter in the way we design research in order to do that. Let me be clear from the start. Asking questions in market research is very often at best a waste of time, and at worst positively misleading. Read more »

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The Science of Product Testing

Dec 24 2011 Published by neilgains under product testing

Market research and product testing

The history of product testing is long and can trace its path back to many diverse fields along a similar timespan to that of market research (back to the 1920s when the science was first introduced to manage product quality). Sensory science developed at a fast rate in the 1950s and 1960s, when different techniques for the ‘descriptive analysis’ of products were developed, starting with the flavor profile method, in the fast developments of the consumer goods industries which followed the end of the second world war. The science was boosted by the publication of Stevens’ landmark textbook on psychophysics in the mid-1970s and has come a long way in the last 50 years.

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Caveat Emptor: Marketing Cause and Effect

Dec 13 2011 Published by neilgains under insight

“Though experience be our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact; it must be acknowledged, that this guide is not altogether infallible, but in some cases is apt to lead us into errors.”  - David Hume

“The invalid assumption that correlation implies cause is probably among the two or three most serious and common errors of human reasoning.”  - Stephen Jay Gould Read more »

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Instinct and the Unconscious (Consumer Understanding #4)

Mar 13 2011 Published by neilgains under consumer psychology

On autopilot

Imagine a busy housewife, with impatient kids in tow, walking through the supermarket to find fishcakes and chips (or perhaps noodles and vegetables) for the evening meal.  Her mind is focused on the task in hand and finding the right items, along with trying to listen to descriptions of the school day just gone.  All of us do many things (arguably most things) in our day via an internal autopilot. Whether it’s brushing our teeth, driving to work, or buying our evening meal, much of our behaviour is learnt and unconscious. Read more »

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Do we know how to think?

Mar 07 2011 Published by neilgains under consumer psychology

I can’t think why

After facilitating two fun-packed days on consumer psychology last week, I picked up the latest edition of Newsweek which had a lead article on the very same topic written by Sharon Begley (link below).  Sharon Begley focuses on the impact of the ‘Twitterization’ of culture, arguing that our brains are sometimes so overloaded with information that they simply freeze.  The story is backed up by neuro-imaging studies of brian activity during decision making, which show that when overwhelmed with information our conscious brains sometimes literally ‘switch off’.  More importantly, with too much information, our decisions can make less and less sense. Read more »

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Market Research in the Dock

Nov 09 2010 Published by neilgains under insight

“Perfect behaviour is born of complete indifference.”  - Cesare Pavese Read more »

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“Beware the Ides of March!”

Oct 04 2010 Published by neilgains under risk


In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March”. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Read more »

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