‘We Were Doing Data Science Long Before They Came up with a Name for It.’ – Dr. Ian L. Cesa, Founder and President, Horizon Consumer Science
Horizon Consumer Science has got market research down to a science.
For 25 years, Horizon has been focused on what most of the market research industry has not – getting the right answers to the important questions their clients have.
From an office in downtown Los Angeles with a staff of one when he founded the company in 1994, Dr. Ian L. Cesa has grown Horizon into a consumer research firm with offices around the world and a prestigious client list with close relationships dating back over 20 years.
These long-standing relationships, more than anything else, are a testament to the success Horizon has enjoyed for a quarter of a century as an innovative market research firm that helps clients answer their key business questions scientifically.
“With some clients, there is not one person in their company who has the same length of tenure thinking about their business as we do. Our institutional memory is longer than theirs – we know more about what they’ve done and what’s going on in that industry than anybody in any of these companies,” says Dr. Cesa. “The lack of institutional memory is one thing that most companies don’t think about, but that depth of knowledge can be a powerful source of sensible business decisions.
“Clearly, much has changed in the industry over the years, and the ways in which we do it have changed dramatically, but our philosophy remains the same.
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“In many ways, market research is a widget industry,” adds Dr. Cesa. “It’s a production line that operates on efficiencies; it doesn’t necessarily operate on talent. One of the things that was always curious to me about the research business was that you had this complete disconnection between the people who did the thinking and the people who did the data collection.
“The more you divorce the data collection and analysis from the thinking, the more likely you are going to get dumb results. The right answers don’t just jump out at you because you collected some data. The right answers are based on understanding that the data is simply a guide to what is going on inside people’s heads. It is one thing to do good statistics. It is quite another to understand the story that the statistics are telling you. If analysts can’t figure out what the story is from the data, they probably shouldn’t be doing it.
“We were doing data science long before they came up with a name for it.
“We used to call it ‘data analysis,’ and then it became ‘modeling’ as the statistical software became more powerful. Now we refer to it as ‘data science,’ and while there is a basic concept of a ‘science of data,’ the term is used very loosely to cover a multitude of sins that mostly have to do with the manipulation of data rather than the analysis of it.”
If the client list speaks of trust and loyalty, so does Horizon’s experienced staff.
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“I have a team of people who have been working with me for a long time and have been driving the business,” says Dr. Cesa. “With the introduction of internet survey tools, companies believe they can get the data they need from a quick survey. They then apply their questions to what they believe is the right data set and then use the outputs to drive their business strategy.
“While this sounds logical, speedy, cost-effective and can be managed in-house, CEOs are quickly learning that this isn’t an area where companies should cut corners. My colleague Jim Bischoff says ‘Good, fast, cheap – pick any two,’ with the implication being that you will not be able to get all three at the same time.
“I can tell you this from experience because Horizon Consumer Science has been helping clients get the right answers for over 25 years.”
Horizon Consumer Science is an innovative market research firm that helps clients answer important business questions scientifically. Horizon specializes in a knowledge of luxury consumer markets, global travel and transportation, and travel retail market trends and has helped many clients gain a detailed understanding of Asian consumers, particularly Chinese consumer trends and Chinese consumer behavior.
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