The top 10 areas of concern among marketing executives, and their point values in order of importance. (chart) NEW PRODUCTS REIGN AS RESEARCH PRIORITY

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Creating and introducing new products is the most important research priority among marketing executives.

The Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, Mass., surveyed 160 executives from its sponsoring organizations. The executives, representing 60 major consumer and industrial goods and services corporations, were asked in May to divide 100 points among several research areas.

After successful new-product introductions, the executives said market orientation and customer relationships are the next most important areas. Those issues displaced improving the use of marketing information and measuring brand equity as the No. 2 and No. 3 concerns, respectively, in the previous survey.

"The new research priorities indicate that a shift is taking place in marketing practice," said Donald Lehmann, executive director of the institute.

"Market orientation has taken hold and the increasing power of the consumer is apparent in the movement away from product-driven strategies. Marketers also realize that they need to make choices about who their customers should be and whose needs they are best equipped to meet ... And most significantly, they are looking for better ways to anticipate adoption and diffusion of really new products," Mr. Lehmann said.

"Companies seem to be shifting away from using the brand to really figuring out what customers want," said Marni Clippinger, communications director at the non-profit research organization.

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