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One-Minute MarketerCorrelation vs. Causation Conundrum for Marketing

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Correlation vs. Causation Conundrum for Marketing

I read a Wall Street Journal story that made a strong statement — that the internet has “shopping malls clearing out.”  More consumers shifted their shipping online and has caused mall vacancy rates to increase from 8.4% to 8.6%.

The article then admits that this could be caused by the glut of shopping centers that are being built and the fact that malls that cater to more affluent consumers are still seeing strong tenant demand. And the fact that has begun to open stores.

Our haste to attach nonresearched, simple, declarative reasons to shopping, marketing and human behavior may be hurting business and nonprofit strategy.

So, another hypothesis of the Journal story could be that the small drop in vacancy rates could be caused by a change in how we are shopping. NRF-Searching-v-Browsing-Shopping-Behavior-Jan2018

It appears we like to go to stores when we are not sure what we want and we are in browse mode. When we are ready to buy, then we may go to the store or go online. Or the new generation really didn’t like JC Penney, Sears, or K-Mart. (Hmmm, those were the stores my parents took me to as a child, but not “my” stores.)

In marketing, you just can’t take a .2 move and know the cause without conducting the research. Understanding behavior is not as easily observable as many believe. Correlation or causation. It is a conundrum research can solve.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.