Marketing Research White Papers

Free white papers and articles on different marketing research techniques. Topics range from advertising research, to innovation, to concept testing and product testing, to win-loss evaluation. These articles detail the best practices for research. All articles were written by marketing research professionals.

A Case for Using the Internet to Track Offline, Organic Word of Mouth by Karen Kraft

Capturing offline, organic word-of-mouth episodes via an online word-of-mouth tracking program.

A New Debate by Bruce Crandall

A comparison between in-person qualitative and online qualitative techniques and methods.

Advertising Effectiveness by Jerry W. Thomas

The advertising industry, as a whole, has the poorest quality-assurance systems and turns out the most inconsistent product (their ads and commercials) of any industry in the world. Unlike most of the business world, which is governed by numerous feedback loops, the advertising industry receives little objective, reliable feedback on its advertising.

Advertising Research by Jerry W. Thomas

A summary of recent insights about advertising, based on the latest research findings.

Advertising Tracking by Jerry W. Thomas

The promise of media advertising is great. It's an opportunity for a brand to tell its story directly to the ultimate consumer. It's an opportunity to build awareness and project a powerful brand image.

Automotive Aftermarket Category Optimization by Jerry W. Thomas

Category Management has been around in various forms since the 1950s and 1960s. The practice acquired its current name (Category Management) in the 1980s. Many marketing executives know quite a bit about category management, since it’s a core concept in retailing, or distribution through retail stores or online venues. The purpose of this article is to share some research and analytic ideas that might prove useful to stimulate your thinking about ways of improving the process of Category Management. The focus of this article is the automotive aftermarket..

Applying Advanced Analytics to B-to-B Branding Research by John Colias

The B-to-B Brand Equity Monitor is a strategic tool for assessing the strength of a companies brand relative to competitors in its market. Through the use of advanced analytics and modeling, it offers insight executives need to make better strategic decisions that will drive business success.

Best Practices For Private Online Panels by Jerry W. Thomas

Over the past decade, some companies have set up private online panels as an economical way to conduct marketing research projects. A private research panel (sometimes called a custom panel or customer panel) is one set up by a company solely for its own use. While many private panels are a success, an equal number are deemed failures. This article outlines some basic guidelines to help you decide if a private panel is right for your company.

Beyond the Millennium by Jerry W. Thomas

A look at the future of Online Marketing Research.

Brand Strategy (A Constant In A World Of Change) by Jerry W. Thomas

What is a brand, and why do brands matter? What is brand equity or a brand franchise? And how do you measure and manage brand equity to maximize profits over the long term?

Brave New World by Jerry W. Thomas

The strategic implications of the Internet are far reaching—for global commerce, for global marketing, and for global marketing research.

Bullet Holes in Bombers: Operations Research and Management Science Applied to Marketing by Jerry W. Thomas

Most analysts define operations research and management science to mean the application of the scientific method and advanced analytics to the solution of business problems. OR/MS almost always involves building a mathematical model of some business process or system. There is an objective function; that is, a mathematical definition of the object or thing to be optimized (to maximize profits or sales revenue or minimize costs, typically).

Business Segmentation: Emerging Approaches to More Meaningful Clusters by Michael Richarme

Conducting opinion research among businesses is problematic. This is particularly evident at the simplest level of analysis, customer segmentation. However, segmentation techniques are evolving and techniques that were common practice in the recent past are rapidly being supplanted by newer, more meaningful segmentation techniques.

Car Clinics (The Head-to-Head Contest) by Jerry W. Thomas

While this white paper will focus on clinics to evaluate new cars and new trucks, the same concepts and methods can be applied to a wide range of durable goods (bulldozers, construction cranes, lawn mowers, chain saws, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, washing machines, and hundreds of other long-lasting products).

Choice Model Calibration by John Colias

A look at how the calibration of survey-based choice models can make a substantial difference in predicted demand and revenue resulting from price changes. Calibration of brand part-worth utilities based on in-market data such as that derived from store scanner data can deliver more accurate measurement of price elasticity and better market predictions of demand response due to price changes.

Choice Modeling Analytics—Benefits of New Methods by John Colias by John Colias

An overview of the benefits of several technical advances in choice analysis, including experimental design algorithms, segment- or customer-level models, and model calibration. The recent advances discussed in this paper have the potential to reduce survey length for choice modeling research and deliver more accurate market simulators to measure bottom-line revenue impacts.

Choice Modeling for New Product Sales Forecasting by Jerry W. Thomas

Choice modeling makes it possible to simulate the shopping and decision-making process, with all of the important variables carefully controlled by rigorous experimental design, so that the new product's sales revenue can be accurately predicted. Equally important, choice modeling helps marketers understand the many variables that underlie that forecast.

Comparison of Segmentation Approaches by Beth Horn and Wei Huang

Segmentation approaches can range from throwing darts at the data, to human judgment, to advanced cluster modeling. We will explore four such methods: factor segmentation, k-means clustering, TwoStep cluster analysis, and latent class cluster analysis.

Competitive Best Practices: Win-Loss Evaluation Research by Joel Mincey

Successful win-loss research programs are built around a well-tailored research tool that collects crucial information from decision makers and influencers who are involved in the sales decision process. The overall goal of the research is to determine what factors are used as decision criteria in selecting a company for a project.

Concept Testing (and the “Uniqueness” Paradox) by Jerry W. Thomas

A well-designed, new product concept testing system, overseen by experienced and knowledgeable researchers, can vastly improve a company's ability to develop successful new products or services. This article suggests some guidelines and best practices on improving new product concept testing.

Consumer Decision-Making Models, Strategies, and Theories, Oh My! by Michael Richarme

The focus of this paper is to examine the major decision-making models, strategies, and theories that underlie the decision processes used by consumers, and to provide some clarity for marketing executives attempting to find the right mix of variables for their products and services.

Creating and Measuring the WOM-Worthiness of New Products: a Case Study by Karen Kraft, Felicia Rogers, and Gwen Ishmael

Most word-of-mouth (WOM) marketers would agree that having a great product is a major key to the success of a word-of-mouth campaign. However, coming up with and developing great product ideas that will be talked about can be a daunting task. Additionally, how can a marketer know that an idea is really “great” and will be talked about by consumers?

Customer Satisfaction Mythologies: The Net Promoter® Score Decomposed by Jerry W. Thomas

The study of customer satisfaction, or customer experience, or whatever the latest moniker is, does not occur in a vacuum; typically, it takes place in the context of the large corporation. Large organizations have tendencies, or peculiarities, that often complicate the process of measuring, understanding, and using customer satisfaction or customer experience data. Let’s look at some of these corporate complications.

Dark Energy in the Digital Age by Jerry W. Thomas

The advertising media landscape is aglitter with new possibilities. Websites are universal. Social media is everywhere. Mobile is pervasive. Massive shifts of media dollars away from traditional media (television, radio, print) to the new digital media are evident everywhere. A brief look at advertising tracking research in the age of social media and the internet.

Eleven Multivariate Analysis Techniques: Key Tools in Your Marketing Research Survival Kit by Michael Richarme

An executive understanding of eleven multivariate analysis techniques, resulting in an understanding of the appropriate uses for each of the techniques. This is not a discussion of the underlying statistics of each technique; it is a field guide to understanding the types of research questions that can be formulated and the capabilities and limitations of each technique in answering those questions.

Endcap Optimization by Mike Humphrey and John Colias, Ph.D.

PepsiCo and Decision Analyst recently presented the results of ground-breaking endcap optimization research at a large annual U.S. conference (TMRE, The Marketing Research Event, by IIR). The goal of the research was to identify endcap displays (by type and mix of SKUs) that would maximize sales of PepsiCo’s snack and beverage products in a major U.S. retail chain.

Focus Groups and the American Dream by Jerry W. Thomas

Even though the focus group has become a widely used research technique in the past two decades, a lot of folks still don't know what goes on behind closed doors.

Hang the Innocent by Jerry W. Thomas

So what is marketing research? Marketing research is collecting data in an unbiased manner and translating that data into information, which can help solve marketing problems. Marketing research includes experiments, surveys, product tests, advertising tests, promotion tests, motivational research, strategy research, customer satisfaction monitoring, and many other techniques.

Global Segmentation—Dealing with Cross-Cultural Differences in Survey Rating Scale Usage by John Colias

Developing segmentation solutions that are global in scope requires dealing with cross-cultural differences in scale usage. Given cross-cultural differences in scale usage, marketing research analysts frequently develop ways to adjust survey responses, so that a particular survey response value means the same thing regardless of country of origin.

iHUTs (In-Home Usage Testing) by Jerry W. Thomas

In today’s short-term, highest-profit-margin world, most corporations, unfortunately, don’t use iHUTs like they did back during the golden age of consumer packaged goods. Many of the corporate leaders in iHUTs 75 years ago, if still in business today, have lost the art of in-home usage testing, or lost the budgets to do serious in-home research. What are some of the best practices CPG companies should pursue to fully exploit the value of iHUTs?

Improving Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty with Time-Series Cross-Sectional Models by John Colias, Beth Horn and Ellen Wilkshire

Customer satisfaction and loyalty surveys typically track brand perceptions both overall and with respect to specific performance areas. For example, a survey might ask customers to rate brands based on overall satisfaction, likelihood to purchase again, likelihood to recommend, customer service, product performance, and brand image. Time-series cross-sectional (TSCS) modeling incorporates both across-units and across-time variation in data variables. The results from this application illustrate the value of adding the time-series component to the analysis.

In Creative Self-Defense by Jerry W. Thomas

A humorous article about how advertising agencies can defend their advertising from marketing research attack.

It’s Not Always Your Fault…Measuring the Impact of Economic Factors on Consumer Satisfaction and Pricing Perceptions by Joel Mincey

While you can control many factors that influence consumer satisfaction and perceptions, other factors are beyond the control of even the most attentive store manager. In this time of rising prices and uncertainty, it is helpful to understand what external market and economic factors are impacting the attitudes and perceptions of consumers.

Little Data by Jerry W. Thomas

The the solution to marketing and business problems—and the identification of strategic opportunities—often lies in the realm of little data, not big data. You don’t have to boil the ocean to determine its salt content. You don’t have to eat the whole steer to know it’s tough. Most times a doctor only needs to take your temperature with a $20 thermometer, not a $10 million scanning machine. The great opportunity is not more data faster, but better data—and better analytics.

The Magic of Idea-Centric Creativity in New Product Development by Jerry W. Thomas

The magic of idea-centric creativity offers a new way for corporations to re-invigorate their new product development programs using consumers who are exceptionally creative individuals who posess idea-centric creativity

Market Segmentation by Jerry W. Thomas

When the term "market segmentation" is used, most of us immediately think of psycho-graphics, lifestyles, values, behaviors, and multivariate cluster analysis routines. Market segmentation is a much broader concept, however, and pervades the practice of business throughout the world.

Marketing Mix Modeling by Jerry W. Thomas

A look at how marketing mix modeling can assist in making specific marketing decisions and tradeoffs, and also create a broad platform of knowledge to guide strategic planning.

Marketing Optimization by Jerry W. Thomas

Marketing is tricky business and a dangerous career. It’s almost impossible to measure the effects of advertising, packaging, distribution channels, media expenditures, sales organization, etc., on brand share or sales revenue. Without good data and absent any trustworthy feedback loop, marketing managers often turn to the security of marketing myths, pop culture marketing fads, fawning at the feet of consultants, and polishing up their résumés.

Mobile Analytics by Jerry W. Thomas

The earth is shifting beneath our feet. Smartphones, iPads, and tablet computers combined have surpassed PCs in number of units shipped annually. These highly portable devices, and the new technologies embedded in them, represent tectonic shifts in research possibilities. Despite the shock and rubble of tectonic upheaval, new opportunities are visible through the clouds of confusion.

Mock Juries by Jerry W. Thomas

A look at the role of mock juries in the legal process, along with guidelines for their conduct.

Moving Tracking Research from Telephone to Internet Data Collection: to Compare or Not to Compare? by Felicia Rogers

A rationale for moving telephone tracking studies to the Internet.

Motivational Research by Jerry W. Thomas

An explanation of motivational research and how it is conducted.

Multidimensional Segmentation By Felicia Rogers, Diane Brewton, and Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.

Regardless of the length and complexity of a survey, the overarching task is to glean actionable business recommendations from the research you implement. This paper presents a case study to demonstrate how you can steer through what may seem like too much data, using a technique we call multidimensional segmentation (the intersecting of multiple segmentation solutions driven by different consumer characteristics and attitudes).

Name Testing By Jerry W. Thomas

That great new product is ready to go. Concept test results are positive. In-home usage tests of the product are positive. The package design looks great. Oops! Wait a minute. What are we going to call this new product? What is its name to be? Here is a little explanation of how to conduct Name Testing.

New Product Sales Forecasting by Jerry W. Thomas

The development and introduction of a new product is an inherently risky venture. In an effort to reduce the risks associated with new products, the forecasting of year-one sales has become an established practice within the marketing research industry. The goal of this article is to take a bit of the mystery out of the methods used to derive year-one sales forecasts for new consumer packaged goods.

New Products by Jerry W. Thomas

An examination of the secret to successful development of new products.

New Products for Tough Times by Jerry W. Thomas

Every change in the marketplace creates opportunities for successful new products. One way to keep new products flowing to market during tough times is to rely on “hyper-creatives” and idea-centric creativity. This is the creativity of innovative individuals with relevant product category experience. Hyper-creatives can help generate hundreds of new product ideas to keep companies driving forward through tough economic times.

New Statistical Tools for Key Driver Analysis by John Colias

Key driver analysis is used by businesses to understand which brand, product, or service components or attributes have the greatest influence on the customer’s purchase decision or a physician’s prescribing decision. The focus of this paper is to discuss the potential application of a relatively new tool, Ensemble Prediction, which combines thousands of regression models to produce a prediction of the overall market performance based on attributes that influence the purchase decision or physician’s prescribing decision.

Oh! We of Little Faith by Jerry W. Thomas

An article about the psychological principles that underlie successful advertising.

Optimizing Messaging & Positioning with Choice Modeling by John V. Colias and Wei Huang

Messaging and positioning choice modeling is recommended when the primary research objective is to obtain information that would allow a company to develop the most effective communications message to consumers, maximizing attraction to its specific brand, product line, store, or department within the store.

Perceptual Mapping: What do Restaurant Brands Really Mean? by Michael Richarme and John Colias

A look at using advanced analytics, including perceptual maps, in determining the brand positioning in the minds of consumers. The article includes a perceptual map of national restaurant chains. This data is from the Health and Nutrition Strategist™ syndicated study.

Positioning by Jerry W. Thomas

The term “positioning” is often used nowadays as a broad synonym for marketing strategy. However, the terms “positioning” and “marketing strategy” should not be used interchangeably. Rather, positioning should be thought of as an element of strategy, a component of strategy, not as the strategy itself.

Positioning—Marketing's Fifth “P” by Michael Richarme

Positioning has emerged as a significant area of consideration, serving as a marketer’s bridge between the levers of the 4 P’s and corporate strategy. This article will examine the basis of positioning from a nontechnical perspective, exploring the conceptual foundations of positioning and developing some prescriptive recommendations for marketers.

Product Testing by Jerry W. Thomas

A summary of product testing techniques and guidelines for testing consumer products.

Qualitative Analytics by Jerry W. Thomas

Much has been written about how to conduct qualitative research (that is, the techniques of moderating and interviewing), but comparatively little has been published about the far more important task of analysis and reporting. The purpose of this primer is to share some basic ideas on how to achieve the greatest learning and the most profound insights from qualitative research.

Qualitative Package Design Research by Jerry W. Thomas

While many quantitative methods are utilized in package design research, sometimes we overlook the importance of the softer side of research—the qualitative techniques. So, the purpose of this article is to share some basic ideas and best practices for the use of qualitative research as a component in the package-design research plan.

Quality Promise Program Empowering Consumers as Your Quality-Control Agents by Felicia Rogers

A Quality Promise system helps you establish accountability with your manufacturers and upgrade the quality of your private brands over time.

Quantitative Analytics by Jerry W. Thomas

The analysis of survey data is a massive topic, and most of this exotic landscape is beyond the purview of this article. The purpose of this paper is to offer some suggestions for the novice researcher, but even those with experience might find one or two of the tips useful.

Research Defanged by Jerry W. Thomas

Over the past decade or so, many corporations have renamed and repositioned their research functions. What used to be called the marketing research is now often called consumer insights. This renaming and repositioning of the marketing research function might well be a great strategic marketing blunder. Read the French Version of Research Defanged

Restaurant Industry Losing Low-Fat War by Jerry W. Thomas

A look at the growing importance of low-fat foods and restaurants’ failures to develop low-fat menu items.

Six Marketing Silver Bullets by Bonnie Janzen

No company or corporation can do much about the financial panic, credit contraction, or recession. But while times of turmoil pose great threats to a business enterprise, turbulence also creates opportunities. If only companies could find a Silver Bullet to solve all their woes. If you are using the Silver Bullets correctly, you improve your odds of success and also position your company for greater gains when the economic crisis draws to an end.

Six Questions Every Would-Be Innovator Should Ask: How Successful Innovation can be Shaped from the Beginning of a Project—by Asking One Question at a Time By Gwen Ishmael and Renee Hopkins

Innovation is legitimately hard to predict. But there must be a way to gain a clearer picture of an unknown future. Based on in-depth studies of 20 innovation stories—both successes and failures—we propose a six-question framework that helps companies gain a clearer picture up front of what factors they must consider to make their innovation efforts successful.

Small Business Survival by Jerry W. Thomas

An article on how small companies can survive and thrive.

Strategic Marketing Tracking by Jerry W. Thomas

A discussion of telephone surveys as a way to monitor marketing performance over time.

Strategy of Leverage by Jerry W. Thomas

Some ideas to help underdog companies defeat their larger and better-funded competitors.

Survival of the Fittest by Jerry W. Thomas

A review of Charles Darwin’s theory “survival of the fittest” and how it applies in today's business world.

Survey Error by Jerry W. Thomas

Sampling error is only the tip of the iceberg. This article discusses many types of survey errors and how to avoid them.

The Basics of Packaging Research by Jerry W. Thomas

The market is changing, and the time has come to redesign the package of that old established brand.

The Great Marketing Debate: Rational Versus Emotional by Jerry W. Thomas

Perhaps nowhere in the marketing domain is our thinking more fuzzy and flawed than the on-going debate between the Rational and the Emotional. The phrase “rational versus emotional” (or variations of it) is found in textbooks, articles, and common everyday usage in the marketing and marketing research spheres. And, as with so many other topics, we all tend to copy what others are saying and writing—without stopping to really think about what it all means or implies. All too often in books, magazines, blogs, and conference pronouncements, the assumption is made that “emotions” are non-conscious and all “rational” thinking is conscious. What’s the harm in these presumptions?

The Honesty of Online Survey Respondents: Lessons Learned and Prescriptive Remedies by Felicia Rogers and Michael Richarme

This paper presents a series of preventative measures that researchers can and should take to reduce vulnerabilities of survey cheaters. The measures are based on consumer behavior, statistics, and psychology theory with empirical support. The measures have also been successfully utilized in practice by Decision Analyst and other professional research firms.

The Throes of Revolution by Jerry W. Thomas

The Internet represents a major paradigm shift that will dramatically change the marketing and advertising landscape, but it has also brought forth new research capabilities to help businesses adapt to and exploit the tectonic changes now underway.

The Ultimate Question® And the Net Promoter® Score by Jerry W. Thomas

The Net Promoter Sscore is not a magical formula, but a flawed formula that loses much of the information in the original answer scale. If you like the concept of measuring the influence of customer recommendations, you might want to consider the Net Recommendation Score™, but please remember that the Net Recommendation Score™ is only one measure—and you will need other questions to fully measure and understand the customer experience.

To Focus Group or Not to Focus Group by Bruce Crandall 

Guidelines for when its best to conduct a focus group

TURF Analysis By Jerry W. Thomas

TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) had its origins in the media planning world, long before it was adapted to marketing research applications. As the name of the technique suggests in its original media application, the goal was twofold: to maximize Reach (the percent of the target audience that sees at least one ad) and to maximize Frequency (the average number of exposures or number of times the ad is seen by a member of the target audience).

What Drives Innovation? A Heuristic Framework for Corporate Innovation By Renee Hopkins Callahan and Gwen Smith Ishmael

The idea that there are factors that, singly and in combination, drive innovation (successful innovation in particular) has just begun to be discussed. An effort to understand innovation drivers—those factors that motivate and shape innovation efforts, and in no small way determine their success or failure—seemed to us to be a promising way to discover what factors make for success and failure in innovation.

Worth a Thousand Words-Online Ethnography by Gwen Ishmael and Jerry W. Thomas

A look into online ethnography. This article describes what online ethnography is and how to analyze it. Online ethnography provides a snapshot of respondents’ real-life experiences in order to truly understand not just what they report they do, but what they are actually doing and how that behavior drives their decisions.


If you would like more information on Marketing Research, please contact Jerry W. Thomas by emailing or calling 1-817-640-6166.