More Guerrilla Marketing Research

Brian A. Vander Schee (Aurora University, Aurora, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Vander Schee, B.A. (2011), "More Guerrilla Marketing Research", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 312-313.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Kaden, Linda, and Levinson open their sequel to their first work Guerrilla Marketing Research, originally published by Kaden in 2007, by getting to the heart of the matter regarding consumer markets. Operations that ignore changing consumer preferences in favor of doing business as usual do so at their own peril. Service Merchandise, Spiegel Catalog and Kmart are joined by a growing list of retailers who do not understand their target market, their needs, and how best to meet those needs. These problems can be addressed, however, by gathering meaningful customer‐driven data and using the results to make informed, future‐oriented marketing decisions. This book is written with that goal in mind.

The opening four chapters offer a compelling argument for the need to conduct marketing research. They capture the attention of readers, namely small business owners, by asking what is at stake by doing nothing and hoping that business will be sustainable or even grow in the future. The first and very telling question to ask about ignoring marketing research is, “If I'm wrong, how much will it cost me?” Although not explicitly stated, the answer is assumed to be, “everything.”

The authors further purpose to dispel myths about marketing research, including “Marketing research is complex, highly technical, takes too long to do, and only confirms what we already know” (p. 18). They take time to highlight several practical tips such as the importance of not even asking research questions that you are unwilling to take action based on the results. They draw insights from large corporations such as the relatively consistent failure rate of new product launches over the past 40 years despite advances in design, technology and communications. The problem therein lies with the lack of effective marketing research or not analyzing or communicating the results in a way that informs strategic decisions. The lesson for guerrilla marketers is to move ahead with strategic and tactical studies with the mindset that the results will provide a solid return on investment.

Chapters 5 to 7 discuss financing associated with marketing research. This is a touchy subject in that most small business owners do not think they can afford marketing research or are very skeptical about investing resources in this way. Often they believe they will be better off simply spending more on advertising or sales personnel. The difficulty is that return on investment is rather difficult to calculate in advance of the expenditure. However, the cost of being wrong in the absence of marketing research usually makes it worth purchasing some research insurance and thus minimizing the risk of making a poor or fatal business decision. Infused in the argument for engaging in marketing research are practical suggestions on pricing out a project and minimizing costs.

The next three chapters go over how to get started with a plan, where to access information, and creativity. The authors provide a visual template for the marketing research process where readers can fill in their business‐specific information. This includes the overall research goal, research objectives, target markets, potential learning and actions, methodology, and cost. Although this is not unlike a scholarly approach to scientific studies, the language and lay out make the process readily accessible to individuals in any business setting. Thus, the trade‐focus of the book comes through in these chapters where the take‐aways are understandable and easy to implement.

In Chapters 11 to 15 the authors go over qualitative and quantitative research methods with a focus on survey research. They suggest that qualitative research should be used as “an hypothesis‐generating process to be followed by quantitative survey research that seeks to validate those hypotheses” (p. 122). The emphasis is on conducting focus groups with arguments presented from both sides about the wisdom of using the results of focus groups without any further study. Moving quickly on an aha‐moment could be disastrous, although gleaning insights regarding motivation or satisfaction may well be sufficiently addressed using focus groups as quantitative approaches may not add to the depth or richness of the data. Chapter 11 provides a very thorough step‐by‐step guide for setting up and moderating a focus group, with specific tips for an online setting. This again speaks to the practical nature of the book, introducing theory but spending much more time on implementation.

An addition to this second edition on Guerrilla Marketing Research is a discussion on research into emotions. The authors acknowledge that emotions play a significant role in consumer brand perception. Thus they elaborate on new approaches to emotional marketing research such as hypnosis, brand personality, and word associations. Quantitative research is also explored at great length with an emphasis on survey research using the internet, telephone, mail, personal interviews and panels. This section closes with practical tips about how to create questionnaires. For example, the authors discuss question bias as is the case with the question, “What do you like about driving a car?” The simple correction to the built‐in assumption about preference for driving is, “What, if anything, do you like about driving a car?” Similar examples are provided for limiting questions to a single thought and being direct.

The next two chapters highlight research on customer satisfaction as well as issues associated with sampling. The importance of customer satisfaction is highlighted with, “It costs seven times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep a current customer,” and, “A dissatisfied customer will complain to an average of nine people while a satisfied customer will tell three others about their experience” (p. 250). Several examples are given for customer satisfaction measurement scales and performance variables. The authors’ treatment of sampling is comprehensive given the length of the chapter. A practical guide for sample size is 600 for a basic strategy study, 300 for most other research studies, and 150 for smaller tactical studies.

The book concludes Chapters 18 through 22 with organizing and analyzing data, putting results into action, and then a brief overview of the future of marketing research. The authors give a cursory overview of testing for significance, regression, as well as TURF, factor, and cluster analysis. They assert that it is helpful for guerrilla marketers to have a basic understanding so they know what requests to make of a professional marketing researcher or statistician.

It is unlikely that a small business owner or anyone without a college degree will be able to follow along as comfortably as the authors would like. It is very difficult to cover advanced quantitative analysis techniques in a trade publication. With that in mind, the authors did well with being concise; however; they may have inadvertently validated the myth that marketing research is complex. The ending chapter offers a taste for the kind of marketing research that will grow in the future including monitoring digital conversations, data collection via social networks, and mobile research panels.

Those looking for a rather academic approach to marketing research will find the book rather elementary. However, given that the title identifies that it was written primarily for small business owners, the authors communicate well with their intended target audience. Practical tips and examples abound which is great for readers who like to see insight and application over theory and speculation. Overall this book provides a service to the marketing research industry by eliciting respect for the discipline from those who might otherwise find it pedantic and out of touch. It also gives strategic tools that guerrilla marketers can use to advance their operations prudently and profitably.

Related articles