Marketing Science isn’t Physics.

One of the great things about the Marketing Science community is the sane approach to assumptions. Unlike economics, marketing science aims to make reliable predictions about the world, just like the other grown up sciences.


  • Physics is just called physics.
  • Chemistry is just called chemistry.
  • Biology is just called biology.

None of these three fields use the description ‘science’ to affirm that they’re science. They just are ‘science’.

Next, consider:

  • Marketing.
  • Politics.

These are two sciences which are very young – especially as compared to physics. Marketing Science is really only 50 years old.

Marketing Science has special problems that are created by the subject matter itself.


  • The same laws of motion that put a rocket into space in 1962 applied in 2012.
  • The same commercial that caused mass awareness in 1962 would not be nearly as effective in 2012.
  • The same commercial that caused mass awareness about Taco Bell, in America, in 1962, would not be effective in introducing Taco Bell to Ecuador Bolivia, in 2012.

Marketing science is particularly difficult because the phenomenon it studies doesn’t stay put.

It fidgets. It evolves. It’s highly susceptible to technological change.

We’d be a lot further along if we had a stable phenomenon and centuries to study it.

It just means that the types of laws and understandings we’re all working to derive are that much more fluid and more dynamic. This feature of the object of study is the defining difference between physics and marketing science.

It’s not any differences in the type of math or methods employed. (Marketing science is experimental and just as observational as physics.)


I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at

One thought on “Why Marketing Science Isn’t Physics

  1. Jim Novo says:

    But, it’s interesting to note that in most MS papers published today, there are often references / footnotes going back to studies / papers from the 50’s and 60’s. So *something* must be constant, some rules must be out there that are as solid as those in physics.

    Those rules are about human behavior – psychology, and more recently the cross-science idea of behavioral economics.

    If you approach Marketing from this perspective, the rules really don’t change, even as the channels, media, technology, etc. are always changing.

    Rather, like physics, new and more sophisticated tools allow you to amplify and expand on the rules that have already been proven.

    So, my opinion, “Marketing” may have no solid rules but Psychology certainly does, so if you base your Marketing approach on Psychology / outcomes / behavior than what you have is a lot like Physics.

    If you base your Marketing approach on a belief system that lacks any serious validation, then sure, it’s “much more fluid and more dynamic”.


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