Market Research Explained. / Esomar. / 2008.

The basics

  • Market research – what it is ... what it’s not
  • Market research: why bother?
  • Life is random
  • Knowledge matters: a lot, actually
  • A new discipline is born
  • ... but how far can it go?

In practice

  • Market research – the industry
  • Professional standards
  • Market researchers – new capabilities
  • Working with agencies
  • Preparing a brief
  • Getting started

Starting to find information

  • Desk research
  • Syndicated research
  • Ad hoc surveys: qualitative or quantitative?

Quantitative research

  • Quantitative research
  • Surveys: personal interviews
  • Surveys: telephone interviews
  • Surveys: postal
  • Surveys: online
  • Surveys: observational

Qualitative research

  • Qualitative research
  • In depth interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Projective techniques
  • Other qualitative techniques

Tools and techniques

  • Questionnaires
  • Sampling
  • Interviewer skills


  • Data: managing and analysis
  • Data: reporting
  • Understanding the jargon
  • References

Lluís Martínez-Ribes (Retail innovation Associate Professor at ESADE business school)

Do you like the book and why? I would like to congratulate the authors, as it is a fruit of passionate work, careful thought, and the commendable desire to share knowledge, to explain, and to inspire. I believe that the book handsomely meets its objectives. It is short, yet a very focused text that provides a good overview of the topic. I like it because it is informative, yet intriguing. The text flows smoothly like a story, yet it educates, and convinces. It is fresh, fun, and appealing in its style, examples, and graphic presentation and a great resource for novices in the field. How do you see the book being used in “everyday” learning/ teaching/ business life? I see the book as an excellent read for those seeking an introduction to the field of Market Research. It is well suited for students, who are exploring different career options and for young marketing professionals just starting out in the field as it can serve as a road map. It is also suitable for junior professionals who find themselves on the client side of market research. I can see the text as a good resource in the libraries of Universities, perhaps even at high schools for the inquisitive juniors. I also see the Market Research Explained as an educational quick read part of the internal resources of various companies. Would you recommend the book? To whom and why? The book provides a good general overview of market research, yet appealing and accessible due to its fresh style and tone. I would recommend it, first of all to students exploring career options in marketing and specifically in marketing research. Secondly, the book is well suited for professionals who seek to better understand market research (perhaps as clients), and get this comprehension just in a short flight time.

Prof Séan Meehan (Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing and Change Management, IMD (International Institute for Management Development), Switzerland)

Given the millions of investor capital absolutely squandered because we misinterpret social and market trends, customer aspirations and expectations, surely business case for more and better market research is made. Market Research Explained makes an invaluable contribution towards a wider and fuller appreciation of the role and value of market reseach. Guillermo Olivero draws on his vast experience as a leading practitioner to update Hamilton's work. The result is a concise overview very accurately pitched at the general manager, executives and policy maker. This reader friendly production provides an overview of all the key classes of market research activity illustrated with case examples. It helps the reader understand how to make the working relationship between user and specialist more focused, productive and effective. Market Research Explained is a must read for any manager interested in the voice of the market.

Dr Eric Shiu (Birmingham Business School, The University of Birmingham)

There are many market or marketing research textbooks currently available, however after having an opportunity to read “Market Research Explained”, I feel that I’ve breathed a new, light breeze of air in the market/marketing research book publishing world. What “Market Research Explained” offers is not expanded knowledge in the subject area. Nor does it offer a new method or skill for conducting market research. The major contribution of the book is that it makes a subject, which is quite commonly regarded as difficult and boring, much easier to understand and much more interesting to read. The book is logically categorized into a number of sections, starting with “The Basics”, followed by “In Practice”, “Starting to Find Information”, “Quantitative Research”, “Qualitative Research”, “Tools and Skills”, and “Results”. There are less than 140 pages covering these seven major sections, which are much less intimidating than a standard market/marketing research textbook which typically has more than 600 pages. Although the number of sections and pages is much less than a standard textbook, the book does cover all the essential ingredients of the subject. These include, among others, different types of secondary research and pros and cons of each, elaboration of all the major quantitative and qualitative research methods, and questionnaire design and sampling. The book has been written in a lively manner, supported by pictures, symbols and case studies. Wherever necessary, it provides clear and thought provoking examples to assist in explaining some key concepts, such as the use of house/apartment buying process to highlight the importance of information gathering in market research, as well as the use of widget sales to illustrate how syndicated information can allow a company to see a bigger picture in which it is operating. All these pedagogic approaches and features make the book an interesting read. In addition, the different sections and topics of the book are elaborated in a tone which is purposefully as non-technical as possible. The book also explains many important ideas, such as the distinction between data, information and knowledge, as well as the desirable mindset of the search for a combination of tools in order to deliver the correct amount of insight to the organisation concerned, in a concise way. All these make the book a much easier read than a standard market/marketing research textbook in the bookshop. Although the book is small in size and thickness, it still successfully manages to keep abreast of and cover some of the latest developments in the subject, such as consumer generated media, Web 2.0 and even Web 3.0. In sum, although the market/marketing research textbook market has already been quite saturated, “Market Research Explained” is offering something unique, particularly in its making the subject much easier to understand and much more interesting to read. I’m sure any layman who wishes to understand the fundamentals of market research in a short time span will find the book useful.

Mark Whiting (Director of Marketing Intelligence, Moët Hennessy, France)

If I was given the strange task of explaining market research to an alien from Mars, then I’d probably want to start with Esomar’s update of Jack Hamilton’s 1989 guide, “Market Research Explained”. It is clear, concise, and above all passionate. As Guillermo Oliveto, the book’s new reviser explains, this is a book that made him, and will make you, fall in love with market research.

Even after almost twenty years working in the industry, I must admit to still having problems explaining to friends and family what it is that I do in the office all day. They have vague images of clipboards, mounds of data and the stealthy observation of consumers through one-way mirrors. Now I feel armed to explain to them, with perfect lucidity, the universe of market research and its many, varied, collective disciplines.

Starting from desk research (the book usefully explains why secondary comes before primary research!) the book leads us through the many different ways that researchers find information, quantitative as well as qualitative and even hybrid approaches. It also explains the different tools of the trade, questionnaires and sampling techniques, and not forgetting the roles of the many different people who populate the world of market research: interviewers, data analysts, insight specialists and You!

For anyone who has ever taken part in a market research interview and wondered what the point of all those questions was, the book clarifies why your opinion is so valuable and the contribution that market research makes to building business success and making the world a more accountable place in which to live.

It is the ideal starting place for any student considering a career in market research, for an entrepreneur wondering how to better understand his target market or for any marketing professional wanting to master the range of services that can be obtained from a market research agency. But it is also perfect for experienced researchers in need of a quick, feel-good fix about their industry. The book’s tour of methodologies is interspersed with almost thirty case studies, many of which celebrate the contribution of market research to society and which left me looking forward, like Oliveto, to another twenty years in this wonderful profession.

Review by J. De Winter (Consumer & Market Knowledge manager, Procter & Gamble Europe)

This updated version of 1989’s “What is Market Research” is for everyone who wants to understand what market research is all about. All too often we see people not knowing how to handle research data, or worse, misinterpreting it because they do not have a basic understanding of market research. And while the short definition of market research could be “listening to consumers,” a bit more explanation is needed in order to get people hooked. This book is very well structured, covering the basics (such as what market research is and what it is not) as well as best practices, such as the importance of professional standards for the success of market research and the cooperation needed between client and agency. The book also goes into syndicated research of all types and the key quantitative and qualitative studies. Each of the individual topics is illustrated by a clear case study (in total there are no less than 27 of them!), making the book a helpful guide for non-specialists. Various survey techniques and tools are covered, including reporting and analysis of results, and most importantly, the book offers recommendations for how to ensure that market research adds value for clients. The true value of this book is that it gives newcomers a clear picture of what market research really is and what it stands for. It clearly shows that market research has indeed evolved from mere information and data gathering to a very strategic role in which it now guides organisations in effective decision-making. As such, the book can help to familiarise all functions (and all levels, including top management) with market research. One shortcoming of the book is that the final section, “results,” could have been given more attention. After all, that is why we do research – we use it for arriving at strategic recommendations that ultimately add value to our business. When market research can do this in a consistent and sustained way, its place in the board room is guaranteed. The key challenge now is for ESOMAR (and for all market research professionals) to get this book into the hands of all those who need to know the basics – marketing, finance, sales, product suppliers, research & development, and last but not least, top management. Perhaps some market research will be in order to determine how to accomplish this in the most efficient way…?

Copyright W & Guillermo Oliveto.