An Explanation of the Dangers of Market Research

Marketing research can be explained in many ways. Marketers usually record and analyze data to provide facts that will help them make educated guesses/assumptions in decision making. In this video, the speaker is Malcolm Gladwell and he explains the pitfalls of market research. Gladwell starts by discussing a particular chair called Aeron Chair. Gladwell explains Bill Stump’s(the designer) decision making process in creating the best selling office chair. The chair required difficult engineering and a complex design. Bill tried to make the chair comfortable and appealing. Bill added a comfortable back support, adjustable arms, a special hinge, mesh, independent movement and etc. The comfort measure passed the scale, however, the aesthetics scores weren’t as high as expected. Bill gathered focus groups and asked many people’s opinions. While everybody disliked the chair, many years later it was a hit.

So, Gladwell talks about how we can understand the problem and how other factors can affect determining the right decision in marketing. Gladwell asks the question; “Why would people say they didn’t like a new idea that they actually liked and what does the fact that the people in this case are so hopelessly out of touch with their own feelings and thoughts”?Gladwell explains the reason in three sections. First of all, Gladwell states that, people’s emotions about a certain thing can be volatile. We can easily get confused and draw different conclusions. Secondly, when marketers ask consumers their opinions on a particular product or service, they are often making up stories. This action shouldn’t be considered as lying, it could be considered as reacting unconsciously. Their explanation can be difficult to transfer so they simply make up stories. Thirdly, questioning consumers or even focus groups can lead to unintentionally interference with decisions and opinions. For example, asking people to think can have a enormous impact on their opinion of what they prefer or like. Gladwell even states that “it screws up their ability to understand and recognize what they want”. The definition of this in psychology is perils of introspection problem. To sum up, we can understand that asking consumers opinions can affect their opinions in a negative way. There is also the language problem that can lead to unreliable data. Consumers often cant completely explain the reason why they like or dislike a product. The lack of language creates uncertainty and false data/information. In the end of the video, Gladwell lastly states, “People are challenged in interpreting the contents of our own hearts”.

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In our modules, we view the problems in analyzing and interpreting research information. The customers opinion toward a product changes everything. Gladwell explains a real life example in detail. It is crucial for a marketer to estimate market demand and these can be seen in Gladwell’s speech.

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An Explanation of the Dangers of Market Research. (2023, May 02). Retrieved from