Just over thirty years ago Gordon Graham, then Chairman of McGraw-Hill Book Company, asked me to edit the Consumer Market Research Handbook, which in three editions sold nearly twenty thousand copies over more than two decades around the world. Since then, a number of British authors and editors have put together its successors. Now, a very well-balanced, upto-date, text for students and handbook for practitioners has been compiled by Paul Baines and Bal Chansarkar of Middlesex University Business School with the help of a number of other contributors. This, in my view, gives the book its strength, as specialist colleagues at Middlesex have been enlisted to contribute their expertise in their fields, while the conception, organization, much of the writing and the compiling were carried out by Baines and Chansarkar.
For years I've claimed somewhat facetiously that research is a simple business, all that is required is to ask the right sample the right questions and add up the figures correctly. Of course there's much more to it than that. Behind asking the right questions is a subtle blend of psychology, semantics, languages, and logic. To frame a single question isn't simple; to construct a complex questionnaire is always a huge challenge. Still the best book on the subject of survey and questionnaire design, published originally in 1951 by Princeton University Press and now out of print after more than 20 reprints, is Stanley L. Payne's The Art of Asking Questions. I have mentioned his book's title to explain simply what survey research is, as a 'marriage of the art of asking questions and the science of sampling'.
Looking through Introducing Marketing Research, I am pleased to see that Baines and Chansarkar's coverage is more comprehensive and instructive than was our own, especially in our first edition. They start with a useful overview of what market research is and how the industry is organized, which we neglected. Their second chapter gets down to how to go about actually doing a market research survey, explaining the market research process of problem definition, deciding the research plan, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and finally report preparation and presentation. All good stuff, and mostly neglected in the CMRH, all 800-plus pages of it, which in the first edition began with a chapter on qualitative research (Chapter 4 in Baines and Chansarkar) and their Chapter 3, on desk research and secondary data collection, didn't make it into the CMRH until the second edition.
Chapters on Internet research and B2B research are also useful additions, and the former is playing an increasingly important role in data collection; their warnings of representativeness of the sample obtained using the Internet are salutary, and contrast with the careful approaches outlined in Chapter 7, on sampling.
Another useful feature of the book is a comprehensive glossary. This one is 'bang up to date', with not only the definitions of CAPI and CATI, but CAWI as well.
All in all, this book is a good addition to the texts we now have to choose from on the subject of market research. Both the student who learns from this book, and the practitioner who uses it as a guide, will be well served.
Robert M. Worcester, FMRS Chairman, MORI Visiting Professor, LSE