Understanding ordinary women
Consumer research and the mass-market housewife
in Hard sell
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This chapter describes the ways in which market research in Britain helped produce understandings of and information about the 'mass housewife' in the 1950s and 1960s. It considers the market research used and generated by J. Walter Thompson (JWT) London, focusing on three key client accounts: Pin-Up home perm, Brillo soap pads and Oxo cubes, together with the agency's non-product-specific research. The chapter shows how JWT sought to understand the ordinary housewife and her consumption habits. It draws sociological arguments about advertising and market research that have conceptualized the commercial practices as technologies or socio-technical devices for 'making-up' the consumer. In particular, the chapter draws the arguments of Nicholas Rose and Peter Miller. The chapter suggests that JWT London used different ways of measuring markets, apprehending the consumer and understanding the use of goods by consumers.

Hard sell

Advertising, affluence and transatlantic relations, c. 1951–69




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