Editor’s note: Brooke Reavey is associate professor of marketing at Dominican University, River Forest, Ill. 

Marketing, as an academic discipline and profession, has seen better days. The market research industry has seen numerous innovations and technological advances over the past decade(s). Some have been great for the industry and some, in my opinion, worse. The industry has an increasing issue with sample quality, sample fraud and educating the industry on current data analysis methods. The question remains: Will marketing continue to operate in the Wild West like it has for decades, or will public policy regulations help save our industry and, more importantly, our expertise?

Marketing is still a burgeoning business function. It is only a little over 100 years old, which in comparison to the other business disciplines (i.e., economics and accounting) is still very young. Marketing was initially recognized as an essential business function when locomotives started moving goods like wheat and coal long distances. Economists realized that a surplus in supply does not always decrease prices because high demand was elsewhere. The agriculture markets set the stage for where we are today. At the time, marketing was seen as a disruptive discipline identifying how and where goods were dispersed. The modern digitized era where we focus on who and why would not be possible if we did not have public policy oversight from the early 20th century. 

Each era of marketing has seen its own set of laws and regulations. For instance, in the early 1900s when marketing was recognized as a distribution function, we saw laws that helped standardize food preparation and grade food items. For example, before laws that demanded for the pasteurizing of milk and transporting it in sterilized containers, consuming milk in cities was one of the leading causes of mortality for young children. Additionally, the USDA implemen...