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Market Research:
Facts & Trends

Global Business
Supermarket Display in Japan
Supermarket in Japan
Market research has gone completely global. Techniques applied yesterday in a supermarket in Chicago are now being used to understand consumer preferences and behavior in Japan. Marketing research as a discipline has spread to Western Europe, Asia and Latin America. This career is a global category killer.

Tech Savvy Critical
Talent with and understanding of technology will be a primary driver of career success in the future. Today's marketing graduate needs to have a comfort level with web-based marketing techniques, demographics and potential. The use of data warehouses to better meet customer needs is exploding. Databases and marketing messages easily meld on the web and create enormous opportunities for the web-savvy.

Get ready to scanalyze
Gathering secondary research used to be an arduous task with hours spent in libraries searching through government documents and other resources. Today, the data is much more easily accessed through on-line data bases. The ability to scan information, drill down for detail and identify relevance is a skill in the work of today's product manager.

Consumer Research Getting Challenging
Consumer research can be gathered in in-home interviews, shopping mall intercepts, mail surveys or by telephone. Because of the rapid increase in home solicitations market research is becoming more difficult to gather. We are also seeing increasing use of relational research where a customer agrees to be paid to be a long-term research subject. Nielsen, for example, has put viewership monitors on some homes. Other companies send out surveys each month along with product samples, coupons and promotional ideas.

Generational Marketing is Gaining Currency.
Companies like Levi Strauss and DaimlerChrysler are acutely aware of which demographic group they are targeting with their marketing campaigns be it members of the Depression Generation, the Baby Boomers or the so-called slackers in their twenties. Segmentation of markets is huge. An extreme example is Absolut Vodka, which tailors ads to magazines targeted at specialized demographic groups. An Absolut ad in a golfer mag may feature grass inside the Absolut shape. In upscale mag's there's an emphasis on Absolut, art and creativity. In funky mag's there's a focus on Absolut, cool and sex. For example, the company recently attached black latex Absolut cutouts in a sexy mag aimed at twentysomethings.

Customer is Key
Market research is increasingly focusing on customer satisfaction with products. Did you like the product as opposed to would you buy this at X price? Market researchers are also focusing more on micro-issues like do our customers really want restaurants to be non-smoking. The focus on consumer preferences has recently driven major changes in airline service, for example.

Consumer Behavior an Essential Discipline
A critical task of any product manager is understanding the receptiveness of customers. Companies such as Guinness (part of brand giant Diageo) have become far more effective in recruiting drinkers by identifying customers as being available (potentially interested in Guinness), sympathetic (drink some Guinness but not yet fanatics) and supporters (enthusiastic about Guinness and willing to ask others to try a drink).

Anthro is cool
Believe it or not, there is increasing interest in marketers who understand anthropology! Heck, they're even hiring anthropologists. And why not? These anthro people uncover myths in focus groups and bring an understanding of civilization and culture to product management efforts.

Usability Research
A related field is how consumers react to software and hardware devices. Firms like Microsoft and Google increasingly invest heavily in usability research. This is an exploding job area.
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