What They Think, But
Do We Know What They Do?
Birkbeck College, University of London,
Since time immemorial, mankind has wished to predict
the future, and today is no exception. One of the prime reasons for conducting
market research is to try and foretell the outcome of upcoming events, whether
it be an election, a brand launch or a new service. The problem that we all face
in this industry is that we are always dealing with data that is intrinsically
historic, from which we seek to make some statement about the future. A primary
way of doing this is to make simple extrapolations, another is to look for
people who themselves are likely to be ahead of the game, and yet a third way is
to attempt to understand the psychological dynamics of a situation. From this we
attempt to build some form of (generally) conceptual model, and apply it to the
circumstances that are proposed (such as a change in direction of a brand) in
order to assess the likely outcome. Such an understanding may well also be used
to shape the proposed outcomes in order to maximise the possibility of success.