Doing Consumer Research in the Field

Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 19:4, 377-389, 2011

40 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2016 Last revised: 4 Feb 2016

Date Written: September 5, 2009


Why consider field contexts to understand consumer behavior? Conventional wisdom suggests laboratory contexts are more convenient, offer a greater degree of control, and are generally cheaper. New product failures, however, suggest a lack of consumer information in the contexts that they actually behave. Field contexts can provide this essential information, which can be a catalyst for new product success. This chapter outlines the nature of field research showing how to navigate through potential landmines that can result in consumer field data being data far afield. Specifically, we discuss four different types of field research based on combinations of control and realism. Within each of these four fields, variables allowing conclusions of not only when they work, but also why, whether to test these variables during one occasion or many, questionnaire design, and field data analysis are considered. We conclude the chapter by discussing common field mistakes regarding a field study’s product, placement, and promotion to research gatekeepers.

Keywords: Field Study, Consumer Research, Field Study Types, Realism, Control

Suggested Citation

Payne, Collin R. and Wansink, Brian, Doing Consumer Research in the Field (September 5, 2009). Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 19:4, 377-389, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Collin R. Payne (Contact Author)

New Mexico State University ( email )

College of Business
Las Cruces, NM 88003
United States

Brian Wansink

Retired ( email )

607-319-0123 (Phone)

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