Laboratory versus field experiments, Management Theories

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Laboratory Versus Field Experiments:

Marketing experiments can be conducted in a laboratory or in the field. In laboratory experiments test subjects. Usually consumers are brought to a theatre or conference room and exposed to an experimental variable such as a television commercial. In field experiments the experiments variable is taken to the field for example a new package is tested in a store or a new product is taken to consumers and they are asked to try it in their homes. In each case some measurement is made to test subject reaction.

A concrete example will illustrate field and laboratory experiments in comparison with a descriptive study. All there were used to measure the price elasticity of demand for four different products. In the field experiments the products were placed in 16 different stores and the price varied according to a carefully controlled plan. Sales at each price level were recorded. In the laboratory experiments an artificial store was set up an homemakers were asked to ho through the store and select products as if on a regular shopping trip. Prices were varied in a manner similar to that used in the field experiment. Actual selection comparable to sales in the field experiments were recorded in the descriptive study homemakers were shown pictures of the different products at the different prices and asked what purchases they would makes if they saw the same items while on an actual sopping trip.

The researcher concluded that only the field experiment generated results that were significant and consistent. The laboratory experiment produced results more similar to those of the field experiment did the descriptive study method. Other test shown similar results in tests of alternative ads it is generally believed that laboratory experiments magnify differences between ads. The field is clearly the preferred research design if it is feasible from a cost and operational standpoint.


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