Market Research is Full of Shit

It appears that I’ve begun a small pursuit in tracking down truly terrible research in technology. I previously noted how three studies of tablet market share were released in the same week, and showed significantly different results. This was further verified by the numbers reported in Apple v. Samsung.

Now, Suzanne Vranica and Jens Hansegard report for the Wall Street Journal (Google redirect to bypass the Journal‘s paywall):

The most valuable brand in the world, according to WPP PLC’s Millward Brown, is Apple Inc., worth $183 billion—nearly a third of the company’s market capitalization of $581 billion.

Omnicom Group Inc.’s Interbrand, however, judges Apple’s brand as worth only $33.5 billion, or eighth, behind such names as Microsoft Corp. ranked third at $59 billion, International Business Machines Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. (first at $71.9 billion). Interbrand notes its estimate of Apple’s brand value has risen.

Apple’s brand is therefore worth, according to these two research firms, somewhere between $33.5 and $183 billion. On a similar note, I weigh between 33.5 and 183 kilograms.

How could two companies working from all the data in the world come up with such wildly different estimates?

“The value of brand is both art and science,” says Allen Adamson, a managing director of Landor Associates, a branding firm owned by WPP.

Translation: “We are pulling these figures out of our collective ass.”