Hawaiian Punch, made by RJR Foods at the time, has been a strong name for some years. In 1971 the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] investigated possible deception in the brand’s advertising which featured the catchy jingle, ‘Seven natural Fruit Juices in Hawaiian Punch’, together with colorful photos of natural fruits. In reality, however the brand is called a ‘fruit drink’ because its main ingredients are sugar and water – it contains only 11-15% fruit juice. After extensive negotiation [with the FTC], RJR agreed to place, on the package and in all future advertising a disclosure of the amount of fruit juice in the drink.

Researchers conducted a 17 wave series of semi-annual telephone surveys, asking consumers in Ann Arbor, Michigan about Hawaiian Punch. Over the 1974-1982 period, the proportion of consumers who believed that Hawaiian Punch had 20% or less fruit juice increased from 29% (1974) to 40% (!975), to 50% (1979), to 70% in 1982. Substantial changes in belief levels this has occurred.

The Hawaiian Punch example was an experiment to determine what effect advertising of an undesirable fact would have on consumer awareness of that fact. Advertising was conducted and a measurement of consumer awareness was made. More advertising was followed by another measurement, and so on. As a consistent growth in consumer awareness took place, one would have confidence in the conclusion that the advertising was effective.

Experiments are much more effective than descriptive techniques in establishing cause -and- effect relationships; the collection of data in an experiment is organized in such a way as to permit relatively unambiguous interpretation One measure of the development of marketing science is the rapid growth of marketing experiments in recent years. Only by the use of experiments can one develop the understanding, if cause and effect relationships that are the basis of a science.

Because of this importance of experimentation in the development of marketing science, experimentation is given more extensive treatment here than the other basic types of research designs. A second reason for this emphasis is that the design of experiments lends itself more readily to rational analysis and provides an ideal against which other research designs can be compared.

This discussion presents the general concept of experimentation and a number of the more common experimental designs. In the process it points out factors that obscure the conclusions that otherwise might be drawn from most marketing research projects and shows how various experimental designs reduce or eliminate specific factors that contribute to this obscurity.

Experimentation is not easy to define. As used here, it will refer to that research process in which one or more variables are manipulated under conditions that permit the collection of data that show the effects, if any, of such variables in unconfused fashion. Such a definition indicates that the distinction between experimental research may sometimes be a matter of degree rather than of kind.

Under most circumstances, experiments must create artificial situations so that they can obtain the particular data needed and can measure the data accurately. Experiments are artificial in the sense that situations are usually created for testing purposes. As illustrated in the vignette about Hawaiian Punch, however marketing frequently lends itself to experimental in real situations. Artificiality in general is the essence of the experimental method, for it gives researchers more control over the factors they are studying. If they can control the factors present in a given situation, they can obtain more conclusive evidence of cause and effect relationships between any two of them. Thus, the ability to set up a situation for the express purpose of observing and recording accurately the effect on one factor when another is deliberately hanged permits researchers to prove or disprove hypotheses that they could otherwise only partially test. It is for this reason that experiments have been the basis for the advancement of knowledge in most scientific fields.