Data Presentation & Method


Data sources are exploding, with real time access to data now a real possibility. There are also many new metrics to monitor adding greater complexity to the world of marketing metrics.

The job of a researcher is to: discover – find meaning in the data to answer our (and clients’) questions; and disseminate – communicate findings simply and efficiently; increasing the chance that research will be correctly understood and used

If someone has to work as hard as the researcher themselves to understand the findings, that researcher’s job has not been done well.

Key Findings

  • Descriptive models seek to uncover marketing phenomena and to represent them. This is the classical task of science.
  • Decision models (market mix models) that do not incorporate any descriptive knowledge seem to have no track record of established success.
  • In contrast, good descriptive models have long provided benchmarks and have helped us slowly to learn about causes and their effects.
  • The term statistically significant is widely misused and vastly overused: the ‘significant’ result is not necessarily interesting, important, large, meaningful, causal, or predictable in the future. It is NOT a badge of scientific rigour. It just says the observation “probably happened” in that population.
  • Significant does not mean important, nor large
  • Significant does not imply causation
  • Significant does not mean generalisable
  • Reporting significance often takes the place of reporting what the result actually means
  • Graphs can be extremely good at showing up a simple qualitative pattern, such as a curve or linear relationship. But they usually fail in communicating numbers or quantities.
  • A graph seldom conveys any tangible information unless it has an explicit storyline. Such a storyline will be much more memorable if it is also stated in words, eg saying ‘A is bigger thanB’,rather than just showing it graphically. Yet few graphical presentations do that.
  • A free choice pick-any approach is quicker to administer than rating scales or ranking measures and also provides a wider range of brand perceptions.
  • Always provide consumers with a list of brands. Failing to do so makes it difficult to detect perceptions for smaller share brands or non-users.
  • How recently and how much someone uses a brand affects their chance of giving brand perceptions.
  • Larger share brands get more perceptions for (pretty much) any attribute than do smaller share brands.
  • The relationship between the brand perceptions given by users and non-users is predictable.
  • Extremely positive overall evaluations are less likely to stimulate responses from non-users.
  • Attributes representing functional qualities are more likely to stimulate responses from non-users.
  • Negative attributes are equally likely to generate responses from users and non-users.
  • Big brands get higher scores for negative attributes than do smaller brands.
  • Responses to negative attributes come mainly from former users, this is why non-users (as a group) have a higher propensity to respond.
  • The Golden Rule of Forecasting applies to all forecasting problems. Firms that follow the Golden Rule of Forecasting gain a competitive advantage from more accurate forecasts, and can provide better service to their customers at lower cost.
  • The short form of the Golden Rule of Forecasting is: be conservative. Conservative forecasting requires consistency with cumulative knowledge about the situation, and with findings from the decades of research on forecasting methods.
  • The Golden Rule of Forecasting rejects methods that fail to make proper use of cumulative knowledge, such as the complex statistical techniques associated with the terms big data, analytics, data mining, stepwise regression, and neural networks.

Best Practice

  • Undertake our online courses into:
    » Data Reduction and Panel Data
  • Analysts should use the checklist of Golden Rule guidelines to help them to improve their forecasting to identify dubious forecasts quickly and inexpensively, and to make better decisions, especially when the situation is uncertain and complex.
  • Be careful about mixing positive overall evaluations, attributes representing functional qualities, or negative attributes in multivariate analysis along with ‘normal’ attributes.
  • When interpreting a score for a negative attribute, one must take into account market share, rather than just interpret the raw percentage.
  • Use a pick-any approach to measuring brand perceptions
  • Prompt for brands, in any market
  • Check for differences/changes in usage weight and recency amongst users
  • With non-users, distinguish between lapsed customers and those who have never tried
  • Both positive and negative attributes need to be interpreted in the context of market share to determine if a score is good, bad or as expected for a brand
  • In attribute lists, identify and analyse separately extremely positive evaluations, representations of functional qualities and negative attributes.
  • Set realistic, not romantic, marketing and business goals: Growth is rare and the exception rather than universal; Differentiation is ephemeral rather than sustainable; Advertising that’s publicising rather than persuasive; Profits are satisfying rather than maximising; Knowledge that is accumulating rather than instantaneous and perfect.
  • In report writing, six rules can help:
    1. Start at the End: Give the main results and conclusions first.
    2. Revise: Your first drafts won’t be good enough.
    3. Signpost: Tell readers what is coming, and help them to see where they’ve got to.
    4. Cut Down on Long Words. And on long sentences.
    5. Be Brief: Leave things out – sections, sentences, words.
    6. Think of your Readers: Their problems are different from yours.
  • In making data user-friendly, turning data into information, five simple rules can help:
    1. Order the rows and/or columns by some measure of size.
    2. Round to two effective digits.
    3. Give averages as a visual focus.
    4. Use table layout to guide the eye.
    5. Give a brief verbal summary.