Difficulties in applying scientific method to marketing

Investigator Involved in Use of Results: Marketing researchers are involved in the sales of their results either directly as in the case of a commercial research form, or indirectly as in the case of the marketing research department of a manufacturing company. Marketing research data are usually sought for specific decisions that must be made promptly. Researchers are anxious to see the marketing organization prosper and for their careers to prosper as a result. They are, therefore anxious for their results to be accepted. This may encourage some researchers to find data that support the views of their clients or superiors, either by consciously or unconsciously fudging data obtained in the research (unreliable for lack of objectivity) or by drawing conclusions from limited (unreliable for lack of exhaustive study). All researchers may be subject to these pressures, as indicated by the Newton example, but the close association of the researcher with the decision action in marketing makes the problems greater there.

Imprecise Measuring Devices: One of the characteristics that distinguish the scientific method from nonscientific activities is the emphasis put on accuracy of measurement. As marketing is concerned with people much of the information collected in marketing research is obtained by interview — a partially subjective procedures that rarely leads to precise measurements. Much of the information desired relates to opinions and attitudes that, at best, can be reduced to quantitative terms in only rough approximations. For example, the strength of an individual’s liking for a brand of Soft Drink can be measured, but only in a relatively crude way. The measuring devices to the marketing researcher are, in general not as accurate as those available to the natural scientists

Influence of measurement Process on Results: When chemists weigh the precipitate resulting from the combination of two chemicals or when physicists measure the speed of sound, neither are concerned with the effect of their measurement process has on the results. They can repeat the measurement another day and get essentially the same answer.

Such is not always the case in marketing research. When humans recognize that they are being measured, they frequently change For example, the family with a people meter on its television set may modify its viewing habits because it knows all the viewing is recorded. Similarly individuals questioned about specific opinions may find their opinions changing as a result of the questioning. This is particularly important in studies that include interviews of the same people a second time at an alter date to determine what changes have taken place in their opinions. People previously questioned frequently change their opinions in a different way than they would have done had they not questioned. The interview may call their attention to the subject say a brand of soap. Thereafter they are more apt to note advertisements for this soap, the slogans used, and changes in the product than are other individuals whose attention has not been called to it.

Time Pressure for results: Marketing research is particularly subject to the pressures of time. Competition rewards the first entry into a new field (for example, a personal computer) with a larger share of the market than the product would otherwise achieve. Consequently decisions on new products (and other marketing variables) are made hurriedly. If research is to be used at all, it must be done quickly. As a result, most marketing research suffers from lack of reliability because it does not benefit from the continuing and exhaustive study that characterizes the scientific method.

It should be noted, however that while, most marketing studies have an immediate short range objective, similar types of studies are done over and over, for different products and at different times, so that a gradual improvement in methodology and understanding takes place. The general result is the gradual development of something that approaches scientific method in marketing.

Difficulties in Using Experiments to test Hypothesis:

Unfortunately, the use of experimentation in marketing research is often impractical or even impossible. It is impossible to control all the factors affecting product sales for example, consumer attitudes the weather and competitive sales strategies. Therefore, it is impossible to reproduce the same experiment time after time.

Great Complexity of Subject:

Marketing is concerned with the movement of goods from producers to consumers. The most important determinant of marketing activity is the reaction of people to given stimuli (for example, advertisement) or, more exactly the anticipated reaction of people to stimuli. Thus, marketing is concerned with individuals who in themselves and in their activities are more complex than the subjects of the physical scientists.