Time to wish Market Research good bye ?

Traditionally big data and market research have been separately addressed- big data considered for quantitative measures and market research for qualitative research. Big data has become a buzzword in recent years however does that mean traditional market research is out dated?

Let’s take an actual example of a company who took the brunt of the big data blunder. The Sunday Morning Herald reported in 2013 that on the UK Amazon website, one T-shirt seller, Solid Gold Bomb, was selling a T-shirt with a quote “Keep Calm and Rape Them”. Some people would think that it is a good marketing cum publicity strategy. But that wasn’t the case! The Australian owner of the company, Fowler, was only aware of it after seeing comments on their Facebook page. He said that they did not design those T-shirts. So how did they end up on the website? This is where big data automation comes into picture. Solid Gold Bomb’s business was to write codes that pick up words that fit well into the popular “Keep Calm and…” phrase. The code picked up such words from library of words and formed such offensive phrases.

(Source: SMH, 2013)

(Source: SMH, 2013)

(Source: SMH, 2013)

(Source: SMH, 2013)

What went wrong?

The code only picks up words from the database but it does not understand the context of it. It does not perceive a customer’s reaction to those words or phrases. It just forms the phrases, puts it on the digital T-shirt design and lists itself on Amazon as an item to sell. All this automation based just on data proved to be a problem for the company which had to suffer a lot of negative reputation.

With so much of information about individuals available with all the technology it would be easier to identify customer’s spending patterns and form a customer profile base. However there is so much of data now and fewer tools to anlayse them. Sometimes analyst spend hours trying to find a pattern in the data which has very little meaning. (Collin Sebastian, 2015)

What’s next for Market Research?

However there are still new generation companies who believe traditional market research is still the way to go – along with big data of course! Companies have started to use both these tools in conjunction.

The result? A hybrid technique to improve the way companies market their brands. It is altering the way in which companies create the presence of their products or to understand consumer behavior.

Here is what Paul Laughlin, Founder of Laughlin Consultancy has to say on combining both the tools.

“Market research becomes part of big data — let’s marry what people are doing with what people are saying.”–Peter Fader (Knowledge@Wharton, 2014)

Who does hybrid research ? 

One such company is Facebook. Yes Facebook is a data driven company. It collates and analyses information from all our likes, comments, photos and other personal data to provide a highly customized social media experience for its users. Why would such a company then conduct market research activities?

From 2012 to 2013, Facebook conducted “facebook feedback panel” monthly for 6 months to identify their how users feel about the newsfeed and Ads on the site. (As reported on Huffington Post). This goes to show that Facebook realizes that there is value in getting direct feedback from the users. One of the result was they created a page to help businesses and media professionals to better their marketing approach on Facebook.

(Source: Techcrunch.com,2013)

(Source: Techcrunch.com,2013)

(Source: Techcrunch.com,2013)

(Source: Techcrunch.com,2013)


So yes there is now a heavy reliance on data collected from various sources to understand a customer’s behaviour, but can we completely rely on data? Would there be tools that would perform data analysis and provide qualitative results as well? What do you think?


Aakash Mehta – 214176608

Username – ahmeh2015


Facebook Media. (2016). News Feed. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/get-started/news-feed [Accessed 17 Apr. 2016].

Klein, J. (2013). When Big Data goes bad. [online] Fortune. Available at: http://fortune.com/2013/11/05/when-big-data-goes-bad/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2016].

Knowledge@Wharton. (2014). Finding a Place for Market Research in a Big Data, Tech-enabled World – Knowledge@Wharton. [online] Available at: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/finding-place-market-research-big-data-tech-enabled-world-2/ [Accessed 13 Apr. 2016].

Moses, A. (2013). Aussie ‘Keep Calm’ T-shirts glorify rape, murder. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/aussie-keep-calm-tshirts-glorify-rape-murder-20130305-2fk4r.html [Accessed 12 Apr. 2016].

Sebastian, C. (2015). Big Data and Market Research Myths and Missteps. [online] Data Informed. Available at: http://data-informed.com/big-data-and-market-research-myths-and-missteps/ [Accessed 15 Apr. 2016].

YouTube. (2015). Customer Data. Research vs Big data & predictive analytics. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIfuEIqYtyc [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].





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