The declining use of the term market research: an empirical analysis

Daniel Nunan

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    This paper analyses the use of the term 'market research' in a contemporary context. Although the term is well established as an industry definition its use and meaning have become increasingly contested. This study brings together empirical data from a range of sources that reflect key stakeholders in market research, including research firms, academic research and data on wider use of the term. Findings suggest that amongst these key stakeholders the term 'market research' has become increasingly marginalised. Few of the leading research firms use this term to describe their core activity and data suggests that wider use of the term has declined over the last decade. Where 'market research' is used the term is typically demoted to describing a set of skills rather than a strategic concepts around adding value. A number of explanations are explored for this, including isomorphism amongst research firms, the role of research in generating value and the broader economic context in which research takes place. Finally, given the growing commercial importance of research the paper considers the question of whether continuing use of the term is beneficial.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)503-522
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Market Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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