Jack Honomichl: A Research Life Remembered
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
A legend in the Market Research industry, Jack Honomichl,
85, passed away on December 8 in Barrington, IL, after a long illness, and
comforted by family and friends.
Jack will be
remembered for his ultimate achievement: defining market research as an
industry through his writings and publishing over a period of 30 years. Before, it was a disparate group of
businesses and activities, shrouded in the fog of obscurity. Just a few had
name recognition: Nielsen, Yankelovich, Gallup. He described to the business
world what it was and its critical value to business strategy and success.
had a yen for both research and journalism.
Right after college at Northwestern University and graduate school at
the University of Chicago, he headed to the Chicago Tribune in
1957. No, they didn’t have a writer
position, but the market research department did, running a paper diary panel
of Chicago respondents under the direction of research pioneer Pierre
Martineau. This sounds quaint now but
back in the 1950s it was ground breaking stuff, and it’s where Jack cut his
teeth on market research.
He went on to
build his research skills as a "panel maven” for the next 20 years at such
firms as MRCA, Audits & Surveys and then at Dun & Bradstreet. He was good at it. He began his own firm, Marketing Aid Center,
at the end of the 1970’s where he consulted with research firms in both the
U.S. and abroad on M&A activities.
He conducted large scale A&U and CSM studies for individual firms
and a consortium of large U.S. research firms.
Yet, in the
back of his mind was that yen for writing and journalism, a yen to inform. In 1969 he created The Analyst, the first
trade journal of the U.S. research industry.
Then the fates struck when Advertising Age asked him to write an article
about MR. It was the first of hundreds he wrote for Ad Age over the next 18
years under the byline The Research Beat, and was Ad Age’s only columnist for
research knowledge and skills, he wrote about research companies and clients
and people, their methods and operations and value, much of it what we call
today innovation. He not only informed
the market research community, but the broader marketing and advertising
communities as well, which had little knowledge of research. He was a lone voice then, writing and
teaching and speaking to the entire marketing community about research.
to write as a columnist for AMA’s Marketing News for several years. In 1990 he
founded the newsletter INSIDE RESEARCH, now in its 24th year. The
financial paper Barron’s thought enough of it to call it "The Bible of the
Market Research Industry.” Jack has
written nearly 400 articles about market research. His writing includes books such as Honomichl
on Market Research in 1978, Marketing Research People: Their
Behind-The-Scenes Stories in 1984, and The Market Research Industry: As
the Old Order Crumbles, A New Version Takes Place in 2003. Through the years, Jack spoke widely about
the industry at conferences and universities.
The most vivid
expression of Jack’s work is his creation of the Honomichl Top 50 U.S. ranking
of market research firms, now in its 40th year. This focused attention, as nothing before, on
a cohesive set of businesses and their activities worthy of merit and use,
conferring financial, business and social benefits on the entire industry. In 1986, the separate Honomichl Global Top 25
was created among the world’s largest research firms.
elected to the Market Research Council’s Market Research Hall of Fame in 2002,
joining research industry luminaries such as Arthur C. Nielsen Sr., George H.
Gallup Sr., David Ogilvy, Marion Harper, Daniel Yankelovich, Daniel Starch,
Ernest Dichter, Alfred Politz, and Elmo Roper.
In 2011 Jack was honored by CASRO with its Lifetime Achievement Award,
only the second time in CASRO’s history that this award has been given,
describing Honomichl as a legend in his own time in the market research
Jack was married to his late wife Frances
for 50 years and is survived by three daughters, a son and eight
grandchildren. A memorial/celebration service
will be planned next year.
Editor & Publisher