History of Australian Market Research
Market research had its origins in social survey research in the United Kingdom. Some people consider the Domesday Book was the first bit of systematic research — it may have been the first census but it was not a sample survey. Social sample survey research came from the enquiring minds of the great English liberal social reformers who were horrified by the conditions in which many of their countrymen were living and used carefully compiled factual reports to drive home the situation to their compatriots. The classics in English social survey research were: Mayhew's "London Life and London Poor" (1861), Charles Booth’s monumental 17 volume study of "Labour and Life of the People of London" (1886), Rowntree's "Poverty: A study of Town Life" (1901), and Arthur Bowley’s "Livelihood and Poverty" (1912).
In the meantime mathematicians in Europe had been developing sampling theory (originally for genetic experiments, then for agricultural purposes, and finally for quality control purposes in factory production processes), and Dr Hollerith had been developing punched card equipment for the US Bureau of the census. Freud had stimulated a great deal of thought about psychological processes and in particular the learning processes, so by the early 1900s not only the theoretical concepts, but also the practical tools were at hand for the first generalised use of social survey techniques in the marketing area.
As is not unusual, it was the advertising profession that led the way, with Claude Hopkins publishing his book Scientific Advertising in 1912, although it was another 13 years before Daniel Starch brought out his book on "Principles of Advertising" (1925).
By the 1930s the large consumer companies in both the UK and the USA were into market research in a reasonably big way. Media research was recognised in the UK with the establishment of the BBC Listener Research Department in 1936, the same year that public opinion polling became a distinct sub-branch with the formation of the Gallup Poll.
Australia was not, in fact, far behind. The first recorded consumer study was carried out by Rudi Simmatt of J Walter Thompson in 1929 who also organised a study of the automobile market in 1930. J Walter Thompson was the original training ground of Australian market research pioneers Sylvia Ashby and Bill McNair, the latter of whom initiated the first studies of the radio audience in Australia in 1934. In 1936 Sylvia Ashby opened Ashby Research Service the first independent market research company in Australia. Then in 1944 the McNair Survey was registered. The Roy Morgan Research Centre was established in 1941 to carry out Gallup Polls.
- Henry Mayhew: London Labour and the London Poor, 1861
- http://www.booth.lse.ac.uk (http://booth.ise.ac.uk/static/a/3.html) Charles Booth Inquiry into the life and Labour of the people in London (1886–1903) Archived July 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- Meg Huby, Jonathan Bradshaw and Anne Corden 1999 A study of town life: living standards in the city of York 100 years after Rowntree[dead link]
- http://www.columbia.edu (http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/censustabulator.html) Hollerith 1980 Census Tabulator Archived May 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- http://www.amsrs.com.au (http://www.amsrs.com.au/index.cfm?a=detail&eid=22&id=144) History of Australian Market Research Retrieved Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Scientific Advertising" (PDF). July 2014.
- http://www3.uakron.edu/ahap Daniel Starch, Papers (1883–1979) Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- BBC Written Archives Collection BBC Audience Research Reports Part 1: BBC Listener Research Department, 1937–c. 1950 (http://www.microform.co.uk/guides/R50035.pdf)
- J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) History
- Ashby, Sylvia Rose (1908–1978), Biographical Entry Australian Dictionary of Biography online