Annenberg / Collection News / Lippincott / Penn Libraries / Van Pelt

American Consumer Culture: Market Research & American Business, 1935-1965

From American Consumer Culture (Adam Matthew Digital)

The Penn Libraries have acquired the new Adam Matthew Digital fulltext and image collection, American Consumer Culture: Market Research & American Business, 1935-1965.

Presenting the papers of consumer analyst and market research pioneer Ernest Dichter, American Consumer Culture is a treasure trove of primary sources on advertising, marketing, and consumer psychology. The collection includes advertising proposals, pilot studies, reports, memos, and letters from Dichter’s Institute for Motivational Research, from the Dichter collections of the Hagley Museum and Library and the University of Vienna. More than 900 representative 20th-century advertising images have been contributed by the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Duke University.

Dichter pioneered the use of focus groups in advertising development. His reliance upon qualitative techniques, such as in-depth interviews, projective tests, and diary studies, combined with industry-standard surveys and questionnaires, put “Freud on Madison Avenue” (to borrow the title of Lawrence Samuel’s 2010 Penn Press book) during the 1950s and 1960s

. Dichter’s work as presented in American Consumer Culture was used by Mattel Toys, AT&T, American Tobacco Company, Esso, Disney, Ford, Kraft Foods, CBS, Heinz, Playtex, and many other companies and brands.

Acquisition of American Consumer Culture was made possible through generous contributions from the Ella E. and Herman V. Ames Fund and the Edward Potts Cheyney Memorial Fund.

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