Research Design Structure Suggested

As researchers we are being called on more and more often to think of different methods for crafting our research design to carefully fit marketing needs and overall research objectives.  With the explosion of available tools and the resulting fragmentation of methods, choosing a research design is getting more and more complex and more and more powerful.  One result of this explosion of methods is our need as researchers to think holistically about research so we can apply it effectively.

The following blog article by Caryn Goldsmith provides an interesting structure for considering different types of research.  The article generated quite a few comments.  For the article and the comments, go to;

Paradigm Shift: Trends in Market Research

Published July 30, 2009 14 Comments

I’m a consumer advocate.  To advocate for them – to give them voice in the business decision-making process – I must know the best ways to learn from them.

As new techniques are developed, I can embrace them, refine them, reject them, or even create something else that will work better for my clients.  I want a large arsenal of effective tools.  And, when needed, I want to be able to combine approaches to address the client’s objectives in the best way possible.


The current trends in marketing research highlight four rather distinct quadrants in which work is conducted.  A simplified overview is shown below.

Research Paradigm Image2c

Historically, most marketing research has fallen into what I’m calling the Sociologic quadrant – participants know they’re in a test environment and they often interact with an interviewer/moderator + other participants; additionally, verbal skills often have a prominent role.

Physiologic testing has been around for years.  It measures a physical response to test stimulus, such as  eye tracking when conducting a copy test or website evaluation.

Ethnographic (or observational) research, with its roots in anthropology, has become quite popular in recent years.  In its purist form, participants don’t know they’re being observed and less emphasis is placed on verbal responses.

Discourse Analysis is the newest approach, and is currently the hottest topic in marketing circles.  These methods analyze social media, such as postings on Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, by studying the language used.

In the coming weeks, I’ll take a closer look at each quadrant in more detail.  In the meantime, I’d enjoy hearing your initial thoughts about this concept and how it might be used to help clients understand why different methods are being recommended.

Leave a reply