Monday, October 8, 2018

The Benefits of Conducting Field Experiments in Marketing

Research comes in many forms and each contributes to our understanding. As scientists we often seek to minimize as many extraneous variables as we can. Compound variables give us migraines! The natural tendency to control and restrict also distorts the truth. Taking real people, with real choices and putting them in a laboratory changes their behavior. Field experiments still have a powerful benefit in gaining external validity and should not be swept aside (Gneezy, 2017).

What is external validity? It means that results can be generalized to other people in other situations. As we narrow the environment we have a harder time creating external validity because we have manipulated the nature environment in some way. It becomes artificial and not reflective of the world in which we live.

The more we change the environment, the more we also impact the way in which people make decisions. It lessons the ability to isolate the variables but makes the experimental nectar sweet in that observed behavior might be re-experienced in other places and times.

Field Experiments should be used in conjunction with laboratory experiments. One can observe the manipulation of the variable in its natural environment and within the laboratory using two different types of experimental designs. One rings truth while the other lends greater knowledge of the variable strength.

We are best served by considering how this might work in the field of marketing. One could observe choices between a few different products in a controlled setting or may may observe these economic choices within the natural setting of a store. The choices may be presented in a certain way in both situations but one may be more reliant on natural influences. In the later cases, screaming kids, people influencing each other, money, and many other factors may impact the final outcome while in the laboratory experiment they may be controlled and not counted. 

Gneezy, A. (2015). Field Experimentation in Marketing Research. Journal of Marketing Research, 54 (1). 

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