“In me 'ead son”

Mark Earls
HERD

Our best hope for re-aligning marketing research to the realities of the 21st Century lies with the ideas in marketing researchers' own heads and not with the ideas or experiences in the consumer's head (or indeed those thought up by marketers and agencies to change the consumer's mind)

INTRODUCTION

“No amount of sharpening the bit or changing the drill will improve your chances of striking oil if you are drilling in the wrong place”

(Attributed to JP Getty)

This paper is about the ideas that shape marketing thinking – our underlying assumptions about human behaviour and how we in marketing shape it. These ideas have shaped what we do for nearly 50 years and continue to do so today, even in our attempts to grapple with the challenges at this great 'inflexion point'. These ideas include hitherto useful assumptions like 'individuals are largely self-determining' or 'individual mental activity precedes and causes behaviour' – ideas which put individual consumers' minds at the heart of marketing research.