Marketing Research BUAD340 Dr. Lei Huang

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

Marketing Research BUAD340 Dr. Lei Huang
1
Topic 4 Case Study and Discussion
Cosmopolitan Magazine1
Surveys are often sponsored and conducted by various popular press outlets to spur
interest among and create a more interactive relationship with their readers. Nowadays,
surveys asking people about their consumer preferences, shopping behavior, general
opinions, even their sexual habits, are commonplace, but this was not always so. A
landmark survey of this kind, often characterized as such due to its enormous sample of
106,000, was conducted in11980, by Cosmopolitan magazine. The tremendous response
to this survey and the extended publicity that it generated caused other publications to
take note; soon after, all manner of newspapers and magazines were including surveys
within their pages, each geared to their particular readers’ interests.
Cosmopolitan, a monthly lifestyle magazine that is targeted to a female audience, is
published in more than 25 languages and sold in more than 40 countries. Cosmopolitan
typically covers topics such as:
• Relationships, careers, personal growth (e.g., personality quizzes), and female
sexuality
• Fashion, beauty care secrets, and tips on fitness and staying healthy
• Profiles of celebrities and broad coverage of pop culture
Despite the female target audience, the magazine has a large niche of steady male readers
(14.7%). The median age of Cosmopolitan readers is 31.4 years (31.8% in the 18 to 24
age group, 26.3% in 25 to 34, and 27.9% in 35 to 49). Median individual income is just
more than $26,000; median household income is about $58,000, with 66.2% of the
readership earning more than $40,000 per household. Sixty-five percent of the
Cosmopolitan audience has some college education or a college or higher degree.
Seventy-two percent are employed outside the home, with 54% employed full-time.
Forty-two percent of the readers are unmarried, 40% married, and 19% divorce,
widowed, or separated. The magazine also claims that its readership is more involved
than that of similar publication, spending an average of 80 minutes per issues compared
with 50 to 73 minutes for readers of competitors.
The decision to include a survey on sexual behaviors of American women in one of the
Cosmopolitan issues was made in the summer of 1979. A total of 79 multiple-choice
questions were created and compiled by a panel of Cosmopolitan editors, grouped into
three sections covering personal background, sexual experience, and sexual manners and
morals. The survey was run as a regular Cosmo article in the January 1980 issue rather
than as a perforated tear-out with return postage guaranteed. In what was an unusual
request for this sort of undertaking, the reader was asked to complete a fairly long
questionnaire and send it at her own expense. The questionnaire was accompanied by a
letter from the editor which stated the purpose of the survey and exhorted the reader to
“share her sex life” with other Cosmo readers.
1 Adapted from Modern Marketing Research: Concepts, Methods, and Cases (2 ed) by
Fred M. Feinberg, Thomas C. Kinnear, and James R. Taylor, South-Western, Cengage
Learning, 2013, p.p. 373-375.
Marketing Research BUAD340 Dr. Lei Huang
2
Simmons Market Research Bureau, a public-opinion research group located in Manhattan
and which served many other magazines and publishers, was commissioned to coordinate
the data collection and analysis. The task of interpreting the analysis compiled by
Simmons was assigned to Linda Wolfe, behavior and science writer and author. Linda
Wolfe was also responsible for enriching the purely statistical findings from the Simmons
analysis with real-life testimonies, by reading the many unsolicited messages and stories
that were sent in along with the questionnaires.
Linda Wolfe stated that she was deeply interested in the sexual changes that had taken
place in America since her college days in the 1950s, but she had given up hope of ever
being able to write about them until she came across the Cosmopolitan sex survey. When
she heard that 106,000 women had responded to the survey, her interest picked up
immediately. She compared this enormous sample size with those of previously
conducted studies. Hite, in the Hite Report, had studied 3,000 women. Gay Talese had
spoken with at best a few hundred. Even Alfred Kinsey had relied on a sample of only
5,940 participants for the famous “Kinsey Report,” Sexual Behavior in the Human
Female.
However, Wolfe said that initially she was reluctant to accept the assignment of
interpreting the 106,000-response survey for Cosmo because she believed that, although
sample size was important, respondent variety and representativeness were also critical to
the validity of the survey’s findings. She did not want to write about the sex-related
perceptions and behaviors of just eh “Cosmo girl,” a typical reader of the magazine, but
to do something scientifically valid and up to accepted standards of rigor. After an
appointment with Simmons executives, Wolfe was struck by how varied a sample of
respondents the Cosmo survey had tapped. She was informed by Val Appel, research
director at Simmons that the (women) respondents were between the age of 14 and 80,
hailed from every geographical region of the country, and ranged in occupation from
corporate president and college professor to motel proprietor and telephone operator.
Thus, although all respondents had in common the fact that they read the Cosmopolitan
issue in which the questionnaire appeared, their geodemographic differences conferred to
the sample remarkable diversity. This diversity was the foundation of the argument that
the sample represented American females and could be used to understand how the
sexual revolution affected the values and behavior of American women at the dawn of the
1980s.
It was decided that the material gathered was adequate to produce an article, called “The
Sexual Profile of That Cosmopolitan Girl” and published in the September 1980 issue, as
well as a book, titled The Cosmo Report, published soon after in 1981. The two
publications concerned two different groups of women. The article analyzed the sexual
habits and attitudes of only a portion of the survey’s respondents, some 15,000 women
who most resembled the magazine’s typical reader: a woman between the ages of 18 and
34, who lives in a city of more than one million and earns her own living. On the other
hand, the book examined all 106,000 respondents, a sample comprising a much wider
sector of American women. This sample composition is described as following in The
Cosmo Report book: “…while 85% of the respondents are between the age 18 and 34,
some are as young as 14, and some are in their forties, fifties, sixties, and even seventies.
Although a fifth of The Cosmo Report women come from cities of more than 1 million,
Marketing Research BUAD340 Dr. Lei Huang
3
another two-fifths come from smaller cities, and the remainder from suburban and rural
areas. And although the women in The Cosmo Report are primarily women who earn
their own livings, chiefly as managers, administrators, professionals, technicians and
office workers, there are also some homemakers and numerous students.” Later the
author commented: “Having worked closely with the Cosmo data, I myself suspect that
the sexual practices of this largely 18 to 34 year old sample is not unusually extreme, and
that the Cosmo women may, in fact, be quite representative of young American women
as a whole.”
The publication of the survey results generated great publicity for the magazine.
Cosmopolitan’s editor, Helen Gurley Brown, explained: “After all, this was the biggest
response to any magazine survey in history and surely the largest sex survey ever
conducted.” Television programs such as the Today show, the Tonight Show, and Phil
Donahue, among many others, all hosted Cosmopolitan editors as well as the writer,
Linda Wolfe, to investigate and discuss the results of the Cosmo sex survey.
Sources: Cosmopolitan magazine, http://www.cosmomediakit.com; Hearst Corporation,
http://www.hearstcorp.com; Wolfe, Linda. The Cosmo Report. New York: Arbor House,
1981; Wolfe, Linda, “The Sexual Profile of That Cosmopolitan Girl,” Cosmopolitan,
(September 1980), 254-265; and Ouellette, Laurie, “In venting the Cosmo Girl: Class
Identity and Girl-Style American Dreams,” Media, Culture & Society 21, (1999): 359-
383.

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized