In Conversation with Al Marshall

In Conversation with AL Marshall

Get ready for an exciting rendezvous in the 6th installment of our “In Conversation with Sage Authors” series! This time, we are thrilled to have the esteemed Dr Al Marshall, the brilliant author of “Market Research: A Managerial Approach” in the spotlight.

Join us as we uncover the driving force behind his passion for marketing and the journey that led him to craft this invaluable textbook. Learn firsthand from the author himself how this book is a game-changer for marketing students, providing them with essential insights to excel in the dynamic world of market research. As an added treat, we couldn’t resist asking Dr Al Marshall about his perspective on artificial intelligence in market research. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I work as a Senior Lecturer and Post -Graduate Adviser at Le Cordon Bleu, in its School of Business in Australia. I currently teach Marketing Management and Global Business Strategy and work on course design for undergraduate marketing units. I also work as a sessional lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, Australia where I teach a number of undergraduate marketing and public relations courses. I live on the Gold Coast, with my two children, and commute to Sydney for work. I am originally from Zimbabwe and have worked as an academic for a considerable time in Australia, as well as a visiting academic in France, and in Germany.  

What is the inspiration behind your new book “Marketing Research: A Managerial Approach”?

My previous book contributions have been in the area of International Marketing, but all my experience as a practitioner has been in market research. I have worked for blue chip market research agencies in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia, and I figured that I would like to share all the knowledge and experience acquired with others. Writing a book is no easy task, and it is especially time-consuming and involves a balancing act with the rest of one’s work life. I wanted to demystify market research, make studying it less intimidating for students…even exciting, and shine a light on its usefulness for the organisation!   

What sets this textbook apart from others in the same marketing research field?

Well, it’s written in a style that should allow students to more easily unpack what market research is about, and not feel intimidated. Too many books on market research go down the road of too much technical language and are written in a very dry style. This book is instead far more accessible language-wise and directly talks to the reader (through boxes inserted in the text). It also uses plenty of relatable examples. Most importantly it gives far more balanced coverage between qualitative and quantitative research and devotes more coverage to observational research than many other books do. It also directly links market research to market and business decision-making.  

Would you be able to share with us how this textbook can help a student with his/her marketing research module/course?

The book comes with videos that overview each chapter and activities for instructors to build engagement with students. The videos allow the author to speak directly to the students, while the instructor’s activities are designed to be both challenging and fun. Too many students approach the study of marketing research with a negative mindset (‘This will be boring and dry’ or ‘This will be difficult’).  The book tries to address such thinking. Of most immediate concern to many students is doing the assessments in their market research course. The material in the book on both research design, research analysis, and research reporting should be of direct assistance with this.  

Can you share any stories about how your book has made a positive impact on the readers, students, or instructors?

It is brand new to the market so it is yet to fully make its impact. Quite a bit of the material in the book has however been ‘road tested’ with my undergraduate marketing students! Firstly, parts of each chapter were tested for readability, with the question asked ‘Do you understand what is being said to you in this section of the chapter’. Secondly, many of the discussion questions (especially the application-type ones) were utilized in tutorials. Students were able to answer them, and engagement levels (judged by the responses and subsequent in-class discussion) were high. Accordingly, we can have confidence that the book will be read with interest, rather than just skimmed. 

With ChatGPT being a trending topic in the field of marketing recently, how do you think this AI technology will impact the process of market research?

This really is a moving field as the technology seems to be becoming more sophisticated every week. There is much speculation in many industries, and the jury seems to be divided as to whether AI is a great threat or a great opportunity. It is obvious that secondary research is going to become far less of a manual process, and far more automated (‘Lets just ask ChatGPT about the existing data in this topic’), while primary research data collection is going to remain more protected. The design of data collection instruments on the other hand may become a whole lot easier and faster. There may also be major ramifications in reporting with the AI being able to analyse results far more quickly than human researchers can. It’s a case of ‘watch this space!’

Find out more about Dr. Al Marshall’s book

Like what you read? Don’t forget to explore our other Sage Authors’ Interview articles:

In Conversation with Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke

In Conversation with Stewart Clegg

In Conversation with Claire Cartwright

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