The birth (and death) of market research: why design research will prevail

The market research industry is built for the 20th Century mass production model, which is rapidly disappearing, argues Sam Ladner. The “mass audience” is gone and a fragmented diverse populace has taken its place. This new “audience” defies the easy aggregation of summary statistics on which market research so often relies.

“Market researchers may argue that with proper segmentation, you can understand every niche within the long tail. This may be true, but to truly understand the diversity between people, your task is not simply to “summarize” the audience, but to delve deeply into the dynamics of what makes them different.

This is why design research is a better fit for today’s long-tail economic model. Context matters. Design research is all about understanding the context because it is rooted in qualitative methodologies, and ethnography in particular. Designers solve contextual problems.”

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