Blogs by Jerry W. Thomas


  • Strategic Research

    In the hands of skillful marketing executives and expert researchers, advertising gives us the power to change the world.

    Advertising can change feelings, change attitudes, and change behaviors. So, how can a client, advertising agency, and research agency work together to create effective advertising?

  • 30May
    Product Testing

    Many inhabitants of the marketing world have heard of the term “paired comparison” product testing, and some may have heard of the term “triangle testing,” or “triangle taste testing,” and some are familiar with the term “Product Clinics.”

    All three of these methods involve direct comparison of one product to other products.

  • Virtual Ideation Workshops

    A brand is some type of symbol, name, or sign that identifies and distinguishes one product or service from competitive products or services (and we can think of “identifies” and “distinguishes” as the practical functions of a brand).

    There are also intangible elements, such as status signals, values, emotions and feelings, visual imagery, and personality traits that can be linked to a brand name.


  • 22Feb
    Brand Equity Tracking Models by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research

    All other factors being equal, Brand Equity is the very best predictor of a corporation’s probability of long-term success.

    In well-managed corporations, senior management stays focused on building and maintaining Brand Equity for all of their brands among the most important target audiences (customers and prospective customers). Once a sound brand strategy is in place, it’s important to track the cumulative effects through repeated surveys of target consumers, employees, and other target audiences.


  • 13Jul
    Advertising Claims

    Is it a good idea to make a head-to-head comparative claim against a competitor?

    Before you rush off to create that great head-to-head commercial, a recommended best practice is to test a number of different advertising claims or messages, to see which types of claims resonate with your target audience. Here are some tips an advice for advertising claims substantiation.

  • 4Apr
    Sins of the Fathers by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research

    The Fathers of Marketing Research invented a number of extremely powerful and valuable tools, methods, questions, and concepts that we all use and benefit from every single day.

    But no one is perfect, and our industry Fathers committed sins that blight our industry to this day.


  • 21Jul
    Consumer Reactions to Covid-19

    For almost 100 years, some large corporations have used marketing research to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors.

    This is not fair, and does not lead to a fair marketplace. These “marketing research savvy” companies benefit from an “intelligence” or “informational” advantage over their competitors. The whole concept of free enterprise and free markets rests upon an assumption of fair and equal competition in a marketplace, and marketing research undermines this core principle.

  • 7Apr
    The New World After COVID-19 by Jerry W. Thomas
    Avoiding New Product Cannibalism

    Consumer attitudes and perceptions will be changed forever.

    Industries, companies, and brands will be forced back to the drawing board to re-learn and re-understand their markets and their customers. Companies will have to reinvent, re-position, and rejuvenate their products, services, marketing, and advertising.


  • 13Aug
    Distribution Strategy by Jerry W. Thomas
    Distribution Strategy

    Distribution is often an unrecognized and underappreciated element of strategy, yet it is almost always an important factor in a winning strategy.

    In the business world, the term “distribution” refers to the channels, logistics, and processes to move products and services from the point of manufacture, production, or creation to the ultimate end-users. When “distribution” is linked to “strategy,” the question is: How can distribution serve as a component or variable to support a company’s overall business and marketing strategy?

  • 22Apr
    Generational Gobbledygook by Jerry W. Thomas
    Generational Cohorts

    Magically, every 10 to 15 years a new generational cohort (like Millennials, Generation Z, etc.) emerges from the shadows to transform and revolutionize American culture and the U.S. economy.

    We might miss these giant transformative waves of radical behavioral changes if it were not for the book authors, pundits, consultants, and communications executives who heighten our awareness of and shape our minds to the significance of each new generational cohort.

  • 21Jan
    Online Sampling

    Online surveys rely primarily on samples pulled from online panels (or access panels, if you live in Europe) or on web intercepts (often referred to as “river” sample).

    Online panels vary greatly in quality, with fraud and error rates ranging from 1% or 2% to more than 20%. Most large research agencies employ fraud-detection systems to identify these errant “respondents,” but many small research firms and Do-It-Yourself research departments do not have rigorous systems in place to screen online samples for robotic respondents, respondent factories, etc.


  • 4Oct
    The Great Proposal Wasteland by Jerry W. Thomas
    Geomapping and Micromapping

    A comparison of the proposal-bidding model versus standard-cost model when hiring a marketing research firm.

    Both bidding models provide stark contrasts in efficiency and time. The proposal-bidding model is far more common in practice, at least in the U.S.. However, the standard-cost model does provide many advantages by reducing project execution times, decreasing costs, minimizing risks, and improving the quality of the research.

  • 20Apr
    High Performance Research Department

    Recently at a marketing research conference, I attended an interesting presentation on the correlates or drivers of a highly effective research/insights function. It was a good attempt, but too many missing variables, too little data, and too short a time period doomed the project to inconclusive results.

    The presentation did get me thinking about all of the high-performance research/insights departments, as well as the “dogs,” that I have worked with over the past 50 years. So, here is one opinion about what determines the success of a marketing research/insights function in a large corporation.

  • 7 core Questions for Brand Managers

    Brand managers live in a difficult world of constant pressure, tactical chaos, and unrelenting demands from senior executives.

    Amid all the frenzy of “agile marketing,” demands from manufacturing and operations, questions from major customers, budgetary constraints, and competitive actions, it’s easy for brand managers to overlook or undervalue the critical information they need to strategically (and tactically) manage their brands. To effectively manage a brand, every brand manager should be able to answer seven sets of core questions.


  • 29Jun
    Universe Error
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Universe Error in Marketing Research class

    The world is awash in data from surveys of all types. The rise of low-cost, do-it-yourself survey tools has added to the flood of survey data. We can scarcely buy a toothpick without a follow-on survey to measure how happy we are with the toothpick.

    All of these surveys and the data they generate tend to create a false sense of accuracy, based on the calculated standard error. The standard error is a widely accepted measure of sampling error, and it is typically the basis for the footnote “the accuracy of this survey is 5 percentage points, plus or minus, at a 95% level of confidence” found in research reports or survey research results.

  • Survey Data Weighting

    It often happens that a perfectly designed sampling plan ends up with too many women and not enough men completing the survey, or too many old people and not enough young people.

    In these cases, data weighting might make sense, if you want totals that accurately reflect the whole population. The term "data weighting" in most survey-related instances refers to respondent weighting (which in turn weights the data or weights the answers). Here are some best practices to keep in mind when you are thinking about weighting survey data.

  • 7Feb
    Mother Nature’s Strategy
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Strategy

    Planet Earth’s life in its many forms has survived and thrived over a period of at least three billion years.

    During this time, living organisms have survived the most incredible extremes, from worldwide warmth to bitterly cold ice ages, from heavy rainfall to extreme drought. Somehow, through all of these monumental changes and life-threatening events, life in all its glory and beauty has flourished. Might life (or nature, or the natural world) have some lessons to teach us about strategy?


  • 29Nov
    Clean and Pure Sampling
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research Sampling

    Sampling, of course, has never been clean and pure. Door-to-door, in-person interviewing was one of the main data collection methods in the United States up until about 1950.

    The arrival of online data collection in the late 1990s ushered in the “Wild Wild West” of sampling practices. Many of the new sampling-panel companies were technology companies new to the world of marketing research. Often these new companies were good at building online panels, but they didn’t have a clue about how to pull representative samples. Here are the systems and practices that Decision Analyst employs in its pursuit of “clean and pure” online samples.

  • 7Sept
    Known Knowns and Other Unknowns
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research

    Several years ago, Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, spoke eloquently about Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and the dreaded Unknown Unknowns. Mr. Rumsfeld omitted one category, however, and that is Unknown Knowns.

    These four sets of simple word-pairs convey powerful conceptual ideas with relevance to developing marketing plans and marketing strategies—as well as military strategies. Marketing decisions based on Knowns—truth, facts, and evidence—are far more likely to succeed than those based on hopes, wishes, and mythology.

  • 22Jun
    Money On The Table: Product Usage Studies
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Product Usage Studies

    Product usage (or product consumption) studies should be thought of as foundational research to be conducted on a periodic basis.

    With the reduced marketing budgets of the last decade, many traditional product usage studies have fallen by the wayside. Yet, it is very difficult to market a brand without detailed knowledge of how the product is used or consumed.

Contact Decision Analyst

If you would like more information on Marketing Research, please contact Jerry W. Thomas by emailing or calling 1-817-640-6166.


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