This is a write up of the talk I gave on the ‘Insight Innovation eXchange Europe 2015‘ conference on 18-02-2015 in Amsterdam. IIeX is a conference that is focused around Innovation in Market Research.My talk was a rather general one in which I tried to sketch the relationship between market research and big data. After a brief introduction, I started by explaining how computing played an important role in Market Research right after the second world war. Then I gave an overview of the current state, and finally I looked at what the future might bring us when it comes to Big Data applications in Market Research.


When I talk to people in market research and I tell them that I work in Big Data I have the impression that I’m greeted with less enthusiasm than was the case a few years a go.  Indeed, it appears that the initial enthusiasm for Big Data in the Market Research community has dwindled down a bit.


I like to describe the relationship between market research and big data with The Three Phases of A Narcissistic Relationship (See The Three Phases of A Narcissistic Relationship Cycle: Over-Evaluation, Devaluation, Discard by Savannah Grey).  A narcissist will choose a victim who is attractive, popular, rich or gifted. They will then place the target on a pedestal and worship them. The target is seen as the greatest thing ever. Here the Narcissist is ecstatic, full of hopes and dreams. They will talk and think about them constantly, they are euphoric. Now I’m not going to say that market research people where ecstatic and full of dreams when it came to big data, but you will have to admit that the initial enthusiasm for big data was especially high amongst market researchers.


But the narcissist is easily bored. The attention they  gave to their target is gone and is replaced by indifference. This is the devaluation phase. The narcissist becomes moody, easily agitated, starts to blame and criticize the target. In the market research world, after a while, we saw a larger amount of papers that were quite critical with regard to Big Data. Big Data was often blamed for stuff we are not so good at ourselves (bad sampling, self-selection, dodgy causality).


Finally, in the Discard phase, the narcissist pulls away and starts to devote attention to its next victim, such as Neuromarketing, Internet of Things, and what have you.


Now of course I realize that this story is purely anecdotical, and has no scientific value. All I want to do here is to illustrate the tendency of Market Research to cherry pick innovations in other domains and apply it as a novelty in Market Research and then move on to the next darling.