Editor’s note: Miguel Conner is marketing director at Chicago-based research firm qSample. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “The 5 best books on market research.”
There is a lot of market research being conducted out there. It spreads to all the corners of the country – a vast lattice of insightful numbers and consumer psychological insights in many platforms and mediums. On a more quantitative translation, it’s a $24 billion a year industry that employs more than 150,000 workers nationwide.
Oddly, the one thing market research is lacking are books on market research!
Outside of limited academic tomes and beyond satellite topics, market research books could fit in the head of a pin along with those dancing angels (that’s an exaggeration but you get the idea). However, the ones currently available to your e-reader or bookshelf are extremely beneficial to market researchers of any stripe. They can either be utilized as needed refreshers or for elevating research pedigree.
Here they are:
Scipione provides engaging biographies of the pioneers of market research, including George H. Gallup, Arthur Nielsen and Ernest Dichter (which we have profiled). A Nation of Numbers also presents the evolving market research eras, a balancing act of quantitative and qualitative pendulums.
Just as fascinating, Scipione offers a crystal ball into the future of market research, based on, yes, research on the history of market research. George Santayana famously said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Could we say that thoe who do not learn from market research history are doomed to have average data?
Scipione makes a good case for this.
The book is remarkable in its understanding and presenting of strategic principles of market research. Correct techniques are essential to any market research company, and this book delivers sensible formulas in approachable manners. Beall offers both qualitative and quantitative insights, explaining soberly how to go beyond data to interpret results (including understanding nonverbal communications of respondents). The insights of the book can be applied beyond businesses to nonprofits or academia.
To make sure her research on market research is kosher, Beall makes available real-life examples to elucidate the reader.
You figured a Dummies edition would make the list (at least we didn’t include Sun Tzu’s proverbial The Art of War, found in so many business and marketing top book lists). Yet the book backs up its title’s claim: providing an effective toolbox for market researchers of any proficiency. Here are some of the nifty essentials, gleaned from its jacket that our team at qSample agrees with:
- Complete instructions for writing a research plan, conducting depth interviews and focus groups.
- Explains the process of sampling, analyzing data, and reporting results.
- Tips on developing questionnaires for face-to-face, internet, and even postal surveys.
- Assistance in keeping your eye on your competition and analyze their results.
In addition, the book comes with a companion CD, so knowledge can be gained driving to and from work.
This work grants a clear, step-by-step guide to the whole process of market research – from planning a project through analysis and presenting the findings. The authors explain how to effectively utilize research tools and methods in order to obtain dependable data; and this includes market research design; desk research; sampling and statistics; questionnaire design; data analysis; and reporting in various mediums.
Unlike the other books mentioned here, Market Research in Practice deals with the coverage of social media research and mobile surveys.
For experienced market researchers, the book may work as an important checklist; for others, it is a first-rate roadmap to ensure a research project finishes with the best possible results.
We admit we have a soft spot for Brace’s book – as we specialize in niche panels and online survey data. Still, one cannot argue that a main cornerstone for market research is survey execution and material. Questionnaire Design can make that cornerstone as solid as possible. It describes how to understand the different types of questionnaires, as well as how exactly they should be deployed. Moreover, Brace explains how to plan, structure, and compose the right questionnaire for specific modes of research.
Also very important, Questionnaire Design includes a section on the opportunities and issues with mobile questionnaires and surveys – essential as we enter a golden era of mobile research.