Technocrats and Marketing Research

Many Directors of manufacturing engineering based companies are technicians – Engineers, Chemists, Architects, ex-Machine Operators who successfully run their own companies.

Marketing as a concept does not always come easily to many of them because there is a certain element of hocus pocus in marketing which is foreign to the type of individual who is technically minded.  Technical people like to see themselves as hard nosed, practical, down to earth producers of sophisticated products who are not fooled by the advertising and marketing ploys of their suppliers.  They also generally do not believe in trying similar tactics on their customers.  In other words, Technocrats are basically an honest breed of people.  Marketing is not seen as all that honest because of its “bull shit” element – Generalisation?  Yes, but basically true.

The Technocrat’s reticence in accepting the marketing concept with all its attendant “bull shit” element is brought into strong light when approaches the even vaguer concept of marketing research.  This reticence, this hesitancy, is clearly indicated when having accepted grudgingly that marketing research probably should be carried out he shrinks away from it when he realises that it has to be paid for.  Large corporates run by Technocrats would not bat an eyelid at allocating several hundred thousand or even millions to plant and equipment but are loathe to spend any funds on researching the market that their machines will be serving.

A recent study clearly indicated that the most important factor that is considered by companies contemplating marketing research is the cost of the research.  This is hardly surprising in the current economic climate.  Price is always important, even in good times, but it must have come as a shock to researchers that price is really as important as all that.

These results came along just when we researchers thought that quality was all that mattered.  So who is calling who a Technocrat?  Researchers as much as anyone else are guilty of being so proud of their product that the cost of research often pales in significance.  Fortunately, market factors dictate that we cannot charge as much as we think benefits our product.

George Klein and Associates specialize in industrial and commercial market research throughout Southern Africa.

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