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Quantitative Approaches to Consumer Field Research

Payne, Collin, and Brian Wansink (2011). Quantitative Approaches to Consumer Field Research. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice , 19(4): 377-389. doi: 10.2753/MTP1069-6679190402.

Understanding how new products will fare in the real world is key before launching them into the marketplace. Conducting quantitative field research provides real-life contexts that aid in understanding consumer behavior and purchasing decisions. However, this type of research is often avoided because of the effort, time, resources, and lack of control that often come with it. In this paper, we provide guidance to avoid costly mistakes and to obtain data that is more robust than data collected in a laboratory setting.

The purpose of filed research is to maximize both consumer realism (external validity) and control (internal validity). There are four fields where quantitative field research can be conducted. These include the Internet, observational field, marketplace field, and hybrid field. Each of these areas has certain advantages that we outline and discuss. There are many variables to consider when conducting quantitative field research that can affect its success. These include: moderating factors, mediating factors, single or multiple occasion measurement, questionnaire design, and field analysis. When running field studies a certain level of unpredictability is expected, yet focusing on place and promotion can increase the chance of success.

Managers should incorporate quantitative consumer field research into their research portfolios because it provides important information about consumer behavior in the context that it actually occurs. This study outlines the process of conducting quantitative consumer research to maximize the success of the researcher.