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About the Book

America, the New World, an expanse so big that it begged to be explored settled and tamed. It made sense that a place seemingly so limitless encouraged our obsession with measuring. Maybe it was our Manifest Destiny to be a nation of numbers and the birthplace of marketing research. Why has it taken so long for someone to write the definitive history of a business that now exceeds $24 billion/year in the U.S. ($78+ per person); that now employs more than 150,000 Americans; that interviews nearly 75% of adults each year; whose numbers and statistics are used by virtually 100% of large and medium-sized companies; and whose studies touch all of our lives, every day? Dr. Paul Scipione’s A Nation of Numbers solves this puzzling gap by providing lively glimpses of the colorful and often controversial pioneers who made it their life’s work to measure and analyze the experiences, preferences and behavior of Americans. Scipione paints the development of the MR field against the backdrop of social, cultural, political, economic and technological events that formed the 20th and early 21st century American mosaic. He identifies the multitude of factors and events came together to make America a nation of numbers and the birthplace of marketing research. He describes three distinct eras in the history of commercial MR: Era 1: the Pioneer era (1900-1950); Era 2: the Survey Era (1950-the late 1990s); and Era 3: the Post-Survey Era (late 1990s-present). Although traditional surveys and focus groups are still used, MR has morphed from an analog to digital world, with new tools in big data and advanced analytics, observation of actual consumer behavior via scanning UPC codes, and advances in the neurosciences. It is fitting that Nation comes just past the 100th anniversary of the MR field. Scipione documents how far we have come and speculates where MR and MR persons will be in another 50 to 100 years. But it comes at a time when many business leaders complain about being inundated with too many numbers and consumers worry that researchers have gotten too good at their collective snooping. A Nation of Numbers gives readers a fascinating glimpse at the researchers whose ultimate obsession is putting us all under their microscopes.