Market Research as Ascetic Detachment: Product Testing in a German Market Test Town

Stefan Schwarzkopf*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The work that market research companies conduct on behalf of their clients is often understood in terms of market intermediaries that help clients identify both marketing strategies and new marketing opportunities. This article challenges this understanding by interpreting market research work in terms of detachment from the market. Drawing on the example of an experimental market research test town in Germany, the article identifies the role of market researchers as that of slowly taking new product concepts out of the hands of their clients and transforming these concepts into test objects. Market researchers who use consumer panels in the test town apply various detachment and immunization strategies that help absorb products into their own test systems. From the perspective of research clients, the detachment from their product concepts is of an ascetic nature as it involves an exercise to give up control in order to master the world.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)329-342
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Also published in: Market Detachment Breaking Social Ties in Economic Settings / Eds. Helene Brembeck, Franck Cochoy & Gay Hawkins. Abingdon : Routledge, 2022. ISBN: 9781003270003.


    • Ascesis
    • Consumer sovereignty
    • Detachment
    • Immunization
    • Monasticism
    • Professionalism
    • Test marketing

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