The New Life Of Marketing Research

by Charles Hofacker


The Insight Imperative, Special issue of Micro & Macro Marketing; Abstract deadline 6 Jul 2020

POSTING TYPE: Calls: Journals

Author: ELMAR Moderator

Special Issue: 

The New Life Of Marketing Research: 

The Insight Imperative

Submission Deadlines: July 6th 2020– Full Paper: January 31st 2021

Guest Co-Editors:

Alberto Mattiacci, Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy
Fabiola Sfodera, Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy 

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Background to Special Issue 

The marketing management discipline is facing a drastic paradigm shift, that is perhaps the greatest it had in its hundred years of life. A shift that has been brought about by several –and often exceptional exogenous drivers: proliferation, digitalization, sustainability and people.

Proliferation led to a redistribution of scarcity, that used to be in the supply side, when the marketing management arose, and that has gradually moved to the demand side. As scarcity is a precondition for value creation, as stated by Adam Smith, it is also the force that moves the market power towards distribution and consumption (Webster, 2005).

Digitalization spreads across people and organizations’ daily life, that is now entirely connected to the Web. The huge amount of data emerging from this condition is giving new routes to the supply-demand relation (Kitchin, 2014).

Sustainability is an unavoidable imperative. The systemic crises of the 21st century proved the unsuitability of the previous economic model. The devastating consequences of a predatory approach – against nature, society, market and money – have now become clear (Sheth et al., 2011). 

People have also changed. The end of the informational asymmetries redrafted the market balances. The customers’ increased self-awareness empowered them in their relations with the brands. The classic idea of anonymous and weak customers, has been overcome by their power to join together and exert significant influence (Belk, 2013; Labrecque et al., 2013; Pires, Stanton e Rita, 2006).

The common ground of all these trends is that of the real economy, and marketing management is its fullest expression (Achrol and Kotler, 2011; Bruni, 2009). The real economy is based on innovating, experimenting, building relations, enriching people’ daily life and allowing workers to express their talents. In the real economy, heterogeneous resources are transformed into products that have meanings and value for both individuals and communities. It is an economy where brands create meaningful plots, where projects are inspired by value and experience and the product offerings produce benefits. The focus of the real economy are people and organizations, their relationships, the value they generate and exchange, the social and subjective well-being. As for the outlined scenario, marketing management needs to keep up with a new era: innovating its tools and methods, strengthening its role within the organization, addressing new horizons, promoting an ethic approach, putting the individual-consumer at the core of the processes (Wright and Wagner, 2008).

The keyword is insight. It has to be almost an obsession for a marketer that aims to create experiences and to be different from competitors. Gaining insights is a great opportunity to refresh both the marketing research field and the overall professions of marketers and researchers, from a methodological and cultural perspective (Cluley et al., 2020).

Not so long ago, a great boost to the insight used to come from flexible and automated production technologies, which allowed to expand product variety at low costs. Ad hoc researches were conducted to segment the market and to identify unserved niches of customers or needs potential customers are still not aware of. Positioning maps drew the competitive distance among the brands, providing information about demography, motivation and behavior. The attitude was investigated over time as the most ethereal and elusive aspect of consumption. Interaction and observation/listening were the channels through which raw data about the insight went from the market phenomena to the mind of the researcher and the marketer, to become marketing strategies and tactics (Malhotra, 2019; Molteni and Troilo, 2012). It came a time, then, when the insight lost its momentum, overshadowed by the production of data about market performances that became technically feasible, economically sustainable and easy to use. Even if this is about performance analysis rather than insight, it has to be included to have a complete overview.

Elements such as the diffusion of EAN codes and optical reading scanners, the extension of the stocks managed by retailers, the spread of Internet and intranets and the improvements of software for the analysis, querying and representation of databases, determined a golden age of market measures. Data measurement – collection, storage and process – joined the interaction and the observation (Erevelles et al., 2016). Perhaps, none of the marketer tasks is as deeply oriented towards experimentation as the research field does. This tension towards the innovation of methods and knowledge led to two more acquisition channels of raw data that were added in recent years to the aforementioned. These channels have different roots. One the one hand the digital environment, that renewed researchers and marketers’ interest towards Nethnography (Kozinets, 2002). Indeed, ethnographic research, both online and offline, came back to the fore, after being forgotten for decades. 

On the other hand, there is the progress in neuroscience, the growing availability of low-cost collection tools and the so-called neuromarketing that in less than a decade opened to a new heuristic perspective (Lim et al., 2018). These led to new and diversified data that could be acquired through participation and registration, new channels to increase the knowledge of market phenomena.

Last but not least, the richest channel in terms of future opportunities: the acquisition and control over computer data. In this case, it is possible to track the path followed by each individual through the places of the new physical/digital landscape of human life. New and unreleased opportunities in terms of insight have been opened from the recent solutions provided for storage and primary processing of data, from the great increase of analytic power given by software development, from the growing extension of digital coverage insight (Wedel and Kannan, 2016). All this has a huge impact that is both ethical and methodological on the profession of the marketer.

M&MM calls scholars, researchers and marketers to join a global reflection about the meaning of marketing research today, considering the renewed centrality of the insight we have hypothesized, and all of the aforementioned transformation of the market management that in our opinion can be considered an à la Kuhn paradigm shift.

With no claim to direct potential contributors’ proposals, some research questions are here raised to support the reflection:

  • How have research institutes’ business models changed? In which ways their entrepreneurial formula and product offerings have been modified by globalization, corporate financialization and the digital revolution?
  • Which relation is evincible between knowledge production – research strictly speaking – and data processing – market phenomena measurement? How has institute researcher’s job changed?
  • How has the marketer professionalism changed? And what about the culture of the institute researcher? How do contents and formative processes have to evolve within universities and business schools? Can we talk about a “back to basics”? 
  • Having the insight at the core of the marketing processes means to define a new architecture of knowledge, where data from heterogeneous sources are merged into a unique analytical and decision-making flow. Is it possible to draft a methodological framework?
  • Is the fundamental methodological architecture of research – that distinguishes qualitative, quantitative and integrated approaches – still valid? Or does it have to be adapted to the new scenario?
  • The eternal trade-off between ad hoc and multiclient research seems to still exist. Which are the best practices that could help to find the proper balance between the two typologies?
  • The ethical issue is always present in the job of the researcher. Today more than ever, the power of technology raises moral questions that are extraordinarily important. Are there any contributions within the so-called humanities that could be useful in defining an ethical framework for the insight?

This Special Issue of M&MM is dedicated to the memory of Professor Giorgio Marbach, who was a member of this journal’s Editorial Board for several years, and among the most important expert of the market research in Italy.

Important Dates

  • Expressions of interest and abstract – July, 6th, 2020
  • Initial screening of abstracts and informing of those selected to proceed – July 15th, 2020
  • Deadline for submission of full paper – January 31st, 2021
  • Feedback from first-round reviews – April, 30th 2021
  • Final manuscripts due: August 30th, 2021

Submission Instructions


ACHROL R.S., KOTLER P. (2012). Frontiers of the marketing paradigm in the third millennium”. Journal of the Academy Marketing Science, vol. 40, pp. 35-52.

ASSIRM (2019). Glossario delle Ricerche di Mercato, www.assirm.it 

BELK R, (2013). Extended Self in a Digital World. Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 40, pp. 477-500.

BRUNI L. (2009). L’impresa civile. Una via italiana all’economia di mercato. Milano: Università Bocconi Editore.

CLULEY, R., GREEN, W., OWEN, R. (2020). The changing role of the marketing researcher in the age of digital technology: Practitioner perspectives on the digitization of marketing research. International Journal of Market Research, vol. 62, n. 1, pp.27-42.

EREVELLES, S., FUKAWA, N., SWAYNE, L. (2016). Big Data consumer analytics and the transformation of marketing. Journal of Business Research, vol. 69, n. 2, pp. 897-904.

ESOMAR, (2019), Global Market Research report, www.esomar.org

KITCHIN, R. (2014). Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big data & society, vol. 1, n. 1, pp. 1- 12.

KOZINETS R. (2002). The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography for Marketing Research in Online Communities. Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 39, n. 1, pp. 61-72.

LABRECQUE, L. I., VOR dem ESCHE, J., MATHWICK, C., NOVAK T.P., HOFACKER C.  (2013). Consumer Power: Evolution in the Digital Age.  Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 27, n. 4, pp. 257–269.

LIM, W. M. (2018). Demystifying neuromarketing. Journal of Business Research, vol. 91, pp. 205-220.

MALHOTRA N.K., (2019) Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation, New York: Global Edition, Pearson.

MARBACH G. (2018) Le migliori pratiche nelle ricerche di mercato, Napoli: Rogiosi.

MOLTENI L., TROILO G. (2012). Ricerche di Mercato. Milano: Egea.

PIRES, G. D., STANTON, J., RITA, P. (2006). The internet, consumer empowerment and marketing strategies. European Journal of Marketing, vol. 40, n. 9/10, pp. 936-949.

SHETH, J. N., SETHIA, N. K., SRINIVAS, S. (2011). Mindful consumption: a customer-centric approach to sustainability. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 39, n. 1, pp. 21-39.

WEBSTER Jr, F. E. (2005). A perspective on the evolution of marketing management. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 24, n. 1, pp. 121-126.

WEDEL, M., KANNAN, P. K. (2016). Marketing analytics for data-rich environments. Journal of Marketing, vol. 80, n. 6, pp. 97-121.

WRIGHT, B., WAGNER, J. (2008). The changing landscape of marketing research: A study of marketing consultants. Journal of Applied Business Research, vol. 24, pp. 101–110.

Guest Editors

Alberto Mattiacci, Ph.D., is a full professor of Marketing and Business Management at Sapienza, University of Rome (www.albertomattiacci.it). A cum laude graduate in Economics at Sapienza, he was a co-founder of Grandi Numeri Marketing Research, now Praxidia, and served as Research Director for five years, before attending the School of Economics at University of Siena, where he served for a decade as Associate and Full Professor. Alberto is Past President of the Italian Marketing Society (www.simktg.it) after having served as General Secretary from 2011 to 2014 and as President from 2014 to 2018. At Luiss Business School, in Rome and Milan, Alberto is the executive education programs in Marketing and Digital Marketing Coordinator. He is member of the editorial board of many Journals and stable contributor at Harvard Business Review Italia. His research interests are consumer marketing, niche management and branding. A special attention is paid at wine business, media and television, tourism.

Fabiola Sfodera, PhD in Marketing from Sapienza, University of Rome. A cum laude graduate in Economics at the University of Perugia, she is assistant professor of Management and Marketing at the Department of Communication and Social Research (CORIS), Sapienza, University of Rome. For several years she has been conducting research and training activities, both academic and professional in national and international high-ranking universities and business school, in the areas of marketing and tourism. She was the scientific coordinator of the Tourism Observatory of the Apulia. Auditor for UNWTO (United Nation World Tourism Organization) for quality certification of university training (TedQual), she has certified numbers of universities all of the world. She is vice president of the Master’s degree in Organization and Marketing for Business Communication and board member of the Sapienza University of Rome. Her research interests are focused on consumer behaviour, in the fields of tourism and cultural heritage, consumer experience and consumer experience through technology and destination marketing.