“You can discover more about a person in a hour of play than in a year of conversation” Plato.
We tend to think that the technology is a quite recent development, but the truth is that it comes from the beginning of the human history. It has always been a crucial factor for the social change and for the change of our lives. Inclusive relatively simple inventions such as stirrup.
“This invention, that allows a horse riders remain firmly seated in the saddle, produced a major social change. This medieval innovation led to a completely new form of attack-combat on horseback in which a fast-moving warrior could stab or chop his opponent without fear of falling to the ground as ungentlemanly. This new form of struggle, in turn, brought new demands to the fighters. A free citizen simply could not take up arms and be fit for war. The new combat technique required many years of training, not to mention the huge expense in horses, assistants and equipment. Thus was born a social aristocracy-new-class of knights-and with it a new set of role models to the needs of affluent lifestyle of a warrior on horseback. “Few inventions have been so simple as the stirrup,” writes Lynn White Jr. (1962, p38) “but few have had so catalytic an influence on history”
What reality lies beneath this story which is relevant for market research? The rapid social change produced by new technology challenges our society as a whole, our society´s organizations and our everyday life. The primitive society was simply organized: tribes, low ranking (hierarchical), barter base economies and perhaps some differences regarding gender and age. As new technologies were emerging, as the example of stirrup, society is getting more and more complex, more hierarchical.
Spinning jenny, steam engine and many other inventions encouraged strong changes. Industrial revolution affected greatly European and American society. The rapidness of the changes over the last two centuries has increased exponentially. The estates of the middle age gave way to social class from the Marxist viewpoint. In recent decades, the Capitalism-communism antagonism gave way to the so called “globalization”: international integrating, multinational corporations, the dissolution of “old” social inequalities from the industrial society; the emerging subcultures, lifestyle and way of living, consumption, the rise of the Internet and the “network society”, but also climate change.
As a result, socities become more complex and all the countries over the world become economically and culturally interdependent. The 2008 crash in US eventually led and still lead to recession in most Western countries, any ecological catastrophe in Asia could eventually affect us; immigrants from all over the world habit the more and more dense urban areas. And no society, no organization can scape from this reality. Governments, countries, but also companies and other organizations, as well as families and ourselves are constantly challenged by these rapid changes.
So, why is market research needed? As a manager, researchers or consultant, the rapid social changes will constantly challenge your organization. We are bombarded with messages that society keeps changing and technology keeps developing faster and faster, making extant professional knowledge obsolete at the speed of lighting. In conclusion, change is ongoing, and every issue in a company is exposed to change or the threat of change in the near future. Personnel, customers, government, environment, investors and suppliers´ relations might not be a problem when a company is doing well. But as “time are a-changing” such relations must be assess continuously. Sometimes, intuition based decision making is not enough nowadays to lead a company in the right direction. More systematic approaches are required.
Corporatte strategy, marketing strategy, organizational structure, business process reengineering, mergers and acquisitions, financial management, downsizing, outsourcing, relationship marketing, alliances, globalization and green policies may and must generally be based in any kind of previous research.