Interview Series: Michael Richarme, University of Texas at Arlington

The Upfront Analytics TeamEducationLeave a Comment

michael richarmeUpfront Analytics is continuing with its market research program director interview series. Last week, we interviewed Professor Paul Berger, Director of the Master of Science in Marketing Analytics Program at Bentley University.

This week we reached out to Dr. Michael Richarme, Clinical Assistant Professor & Associate Director of the Master of Science in Marketing Research Program at The University of Texas at Arlington. Professor Richarme has over four decades of marketing planning and research experience, as well as 32 years of corporate experience.


The Interview

1. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the market research industry?

Fragmentation of the industry into different “sub-fields” like shopper insights, merchandising research, etc.

2. What direction does market research seem to be trending toward? Any particular field or method which seems to be picking up speed?

Big data seems to be all the current rage.  Rather than proposing hypotheses and analyzing the data to support or find no support, we seem to be moving back to an era of “dumpster-diving” or trying to find relationships in the data without prior hypotheses.

3. What has been the biggest change in the market research industry in the past 50 years?

Computers.  That makes tasks like CFA so much easier, but students today just push a button and don’t know how to build the matrices or evaluate the outputs.

4. Are landline surveys and other traditional methods still viable in today’s tech-shaped world?

Yes.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each sample source, and landline still represents a viable way for fast, very brief, random sampling.

5. Do you think brand managers today are utilizing the full potential of market research when it comes to concept testing and product development?

No. Just look at PDMA new product failure rates and you can see hard evidence of that.  We get stuck in innovation boxes sometimes, where we focus on continuous improvement instead of disruptive innovation, and we often fall in the trap of thinking we know better than the customer what the customer wants.  Better use of segmentation and qualitative research are keys that we are not using very effectively.

6. Professor Daniel Kahneman’s recent book Thinking Fast & Slow talked about the difference between system 1 and 2 thinking, and how it affects respondents’ answers. Do you agree with his differentiation?

Excellent book.  I had a chance to hear him speak at Texas A&M a number of years ago regarding Prospect Theory, and I think he is right on track with his analysis.  Would really like to meet Dr. Kahneman some day.

7. What is the biggest challenge you face as dean/director of your program?

Awareness of this vibrant program among both research employers and potential students.  We actually get more awareness among international students through word-of-mouth conversations.  Unfortunately, as a University, we aren’t set up really well to conduct marketing campaigns, which pains a Marketing professor to say.

8. How is teaching market research different than when you were a student?

Back in the early 70’s we didn’t have anything more than hand calculators, and even those were rare.  We calculated with slide rules and pencil and paper.  I recall the first mini-computer that the Business school got, and how processing time was so precious that we still ran factor analyses by hand.

9. When is the ideal time for a post-graduate degree in market research? After finishing college or after getting a few years of corporate experience?

I always prefer students who have a few years of work experience, as they are more able to relate to using the tools we teach at the graduate level, not just seeing the tools as nice theories.  Graduate programs should be tools-based, not purely theoretical.

10. If you could invite any one advertising/marketing/business (living, dead, real, fictitious) person to a meal, who would it be and why?

Tough question.  There are many colleagues who I treasure, such as Richard Bagozzi and Shelby Hunt, but I think I would choose the original father of Marketing Strategy, Sun Tzu.  I’ve taught our Doctoral seminar on Marketing Strategy, and I have paralleled Sun Tzu’s Art of War with readings from modern strategists, and it is always amazing to me how much we can still learn from the original master.

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