15.821 Listening to the Customer

Fall 2002

A fishmonger and customer in Venice's Rialto Markets.
A fishmonger and customer in Venice's Rialto Markets. (Photo courtesy of Philip Greenspun, http://philip.greenspun.com/copyright/.)

Course Highlights

Several lecture notes, as well as detailed lists of readings and assignments, are available.

Course Description

The 15.821 + 15.822 Sequence

Marketing research may be divided into methods that emphasize understanding “the customer” and methods that emphasize understanding “the market.” This course (15.821) deals with the customer and emphasizes qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, Voice of the Customer, composing questions for a survey). The companion course (15.822) deals with the market and emphasizes quantitative methods (sampling, survey execution, quantitative data interpretation, conjoint analysis, factor analysis).

The methods covered in 15.821 are often used in the “front-end” of market research project, whose second-stage is a quantitative survey. The quality of information gathered in the second-stage is greatly enhanced in this way.

15.821 is designed for the nonspecialist, e.g., someone planning a career in general management, product or project management, R&D, advertising, or entrepreneurship. 15.822 teaches analytical techniques that are standard in consulting or marketing research, and is ideally suited for students planning careers in those fields.

Objectives of 15.821

This course has three complementary objectives, namely, to:

  • provide a concise “user’s guide” to the most valuable and common qualitative customer research methods (focus groups, customer visits, interviews)
  • teach key skills for “do-it-yourself” customer research (preparing & conducting interviews, group discussions, surveys, and site visits)
  • through a full-course project, teach all the basic steps of a Voice of the Customer exercise

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

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Prof. Drazen Prelec

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session