Charles Coolidge Parlin was considered by many to be the founder of market research. Working for the dominant Curtis Publishing Company, he revolutionized the industry by providing added value to advertisers through information about the racial, ethnic, and regional biases of readers and consumers. By maintaining contact with both businesses and customers, Parlin and Curtis publications were able to turn consumer wants into corporate profits.
In A New Brand of Business, Douglas Ward provides an intriguing business history that explains how and why Curtis developed its market research division. He reveals the evolution and impact of Parlin’s work, which understood how readers and advertisers in the emerging consumer economy looked at magazines and advertisements. Ward also examines the cultural and social reasons for the development and use of market research—particularly in regard to Curtis’ readership of upper-income elites. The result weaves the stories of Parlin and Curtis into the changes taking place in American business and advertising in the early twentieth century.