The market research industry is in a lamentable state. I’m a bit of a saddo when it comes to this because I trained as a market researcher in the days when people did actually train as market researchers, rather than simply lobbing a question on to Survey Monkey, in the belief that the answer would plop out on the other side. No thought required.
You want examples? OK here are some examples:
A food delivery company emails me with a regular monthly survey. They ask me if I know of a range of similar brands, and then they ask me if I’ve heard anything about them recently. The answer is always yes to both questions, mainly because I have answered a survey question about them a month ago. It breaches the ‘research 101’ principle of using respondent panels (that’s how most research is done nowadays). You can’t ask awareness questions because panel members were regularly being made aware of brands and news about them – by the very surveys that the panel conducted. Doh.
And it gets worse. See if you can spot the error in the following question (there’s a clue in the top right corner):
I’ll wager Aviva is congratulating itself on the exceedingly high recognition of its rugby sponsorship.
This next problem seems to crop up a lot. Rather than asking people to respond to questions planned and written according to a smart experimental design, the researchers just ask us what they should do.
Channel planning involves studying the lifestyles and media habits of our target audience so we can find the most suitable media to reach them in the most effective ways. Or does it? Doddle seems to believe you can just ask people where to put your messages:
And they’re not the only ones:
Unfortunately, it seems that’s what research has become. There’s no thought involved. When faced with a problem, you just ask people what to do.