What Do Marketing Researchers Research?

Academics love studying themselves and Cho, Fu, and Wu have dissected what academic marketing researchers have been up to for the past twenty years (1995-2014) in a recent paper in the Journal of Interactive Marketing. I don’t mean to imply studying ones’ own discipline is a criticism — it is interesting. Indeed, possibly the closest paper to theirs is our own (Wang, Bendle, Mai, and Cotte, 2015) which text mines JCR (https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv009). In the spirit of academics who do such analysis theirs is only a few years after ours but distinguishes itself by having much more data to analyze. “Compared with Wang et al. (2015), which defined 16 topics from 235 single words, our model identifies 100 topics from more than 2,000 phrases.” (Cho, Fu and Wu, 2017, page 54). 100 topics is a bit unmanageable so they cluster this into 13 topic groups.

They have some very useful visualizations. (And they make their data available so readers can do their own). They show how co-authorship seems to have two groups of journals; a group around JMR (Journal of Marketing Research) and another group around the Journal of Business Research. Interesting these aren’t the customary psychology (JCR, JCP) versus economics (others) groupings that we tend to see. There seems to be a fair amount of co-authorship between those involved in Marketing Science and JMR and between JMR and JCR (Journal of Consumer Research). The Journal of Consumer Psychology (JCP) seems a little more cut off, with strong connections to JCR but not much connection with the other journals.

They can show trends in topics, ‘social norms’ have fallen and risen whereas ‘customer service’ has steadily, if un-dramatically, risen. ‘Channels’ research seems to have been suffering over the last twenty years which is a shame given it can be potentially relevant. In digital ‘social media and politics’ have risen (to 2014 when this data ends). Surely it’ll have gotten even higher in the past four years.

Studying the diversity of topics is interesting. Unsurprisingly the Journal of Marketing (a general purpose journal) is pretty diverse, as well as being the best cited. The Journal of Interactive Marketing (where this is published) isn’t that diverse but can still claim strong citations.

They also note how many authors are on papers and how many papers authors have. The majority of authors only have one paper. (Hopefully many are still working on getting more).

In the spirit of the more things change the more they stay the same — they note: “After moving toward strategic and cognitive topics, [Marketing Academic Research] returned to its traditional domains of customer service and consumer psychologies.” (Cho, Fu and Wu, 2017, page 64).

This is an interesting analysis and being able to play with the data online is a massive plus.

Read: Yung-Jan Cho, Pei-Wen Fu, and Chi-Cheng Wu (2017) Popular Research Topics in Marketing Journals, 1995–2014, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 40 (2017) 52–72