Topic Progress:

1920s – 1940s

  • Daniel Starch developed a theory that advertising had to be seen, read, believed, remembered, and most importantly, acted upon, in order to be considered effective.
  • In order to prove this, Daniel and his colleagues would interview people on the street asking them about their publication readership and compare this to the circulation of the magazine to test ad effectiveness.
  • George Gallup then developed a rival theory (Aided Recall) to measure ad effectiveness by interviewing people and seeing if they could remember an ad based on a series of triggers, without showing them the ad itself. Eventually this would be adapted and used years later.

1940s  – 1960s

  • People began to notice differences between the answers people gave in the quantitative surveys and what they actually did. This lead to Robert Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld developing the still popular Focus Group.
  • Wanting even more in- depth answers, Ernest Dichter pioneered Motivational Research which eventually developed into Brand Equity (the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself).

1960s  – 1980s

  • With new technology, quantitative methods again become popular using phones, computers and the internet, as well as now having the ability to use audio recordings for focus groups.
  • Ad and Brand Tracking is developed by Maurice Millward and Gordon Brown (founders of Millward Brown).
  • Face-to-face interviews, video-recorded focus groups, computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and postal mail surveys emerge as the primary qualitative data gathering methods.
  • Customer Satisfaction research is introduced.

1990s  – Present Day


  • Due to advances in technology and the internet, research methods become more mobile and online focused such as Computer Aided Web Interviewing (CAWI).
  • Behaviour can be tracked in new ways such as online communities, social media, market research, big data analytics, and smartphone-based market research.
  • Market research becomes fundamental for any new or current brand or business.
  • Use of smartphones and remote internet access means that real time dashboards can be built.

Main Source but researched generally



The future of Market Research

We all know that the commercial world is becoming more and more competitive. CEOs demand their marketing and research teams deliver more and more within reducing budgets and timescales. This then filters down to us, the research agency, and we need to find clever solutions that provide accurate, timely and actionable insight that delivers demonstratable ROI.

Advancing technology, from automation to client-facing DIY tools to artificial intelligent analysis, currently dominate change in the market research industry enabling on-demand analysis, insights and solutions.

We as researchers need to welcome these new technologies, not to replace ‘old’ technologies and methodologies but to add to them, to develop them, to make the overall solution for the client cheaper, faster, better than it was before.

Alongside technological advances, traditional primary market research tools such as quantitative surveys and qualitative depths/focus groups, and secondary research such as industry data and competitor intelligence will all remain key in delivering client solutions.

The strength of the successful researcher will be to determine which combination of these offerings will provide the best solution for the client, in this decision will be the all-important human factor.

Taken all that in?