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Transforming Research, Step 2: Cut the fat
At the ARF's Industry Leader Forum on October 29, many people commented that a lot of surveys are done and much of the data isn't used: data isn't believed, a particular question is a vestige that is no longer relevant, and myriad other reasons were given.
In the afternoon workshop I conducted, we were tasked with coming up with a new way to identify trends early. One of the questions the ARF asked us to address was "Assuming your budget won't increase, what would you give up in order to fund new techniques or approaches?" My group had no problems coming up with ways to cut back their current research. Prime among them was eliminating questions from tracking surveys that are no longer used.
Lunch speaker Joel Benenson of Benenson Strategy Group told one such story. A cosmetics maker hired him to conduct their tracking survey. Included among the attributes was the statement, "Makes me feel alluring." His question to the audience was "When was the last time you heard a woman say she felt alluring?" This drew knowing laughs from a large segment of the audience.
This language was probably right on in the '50's, maybe even the '60's. But it probably died out with the Women's Liberation movement of the '70's when women no longer had to use euphemisms and could openly admit that they wanted to feel sexy.
Why has this question survived if the language is so dated? The only possible answer is "comparability". But shouldn't relevance to the audience trump comparability? But who cares whether women considers your brand alluring, if they haven't wanted to be alluring for 30 years?
And this leads to one of the fundamental principles that research must adopt in order to transform: greater allegiance to the consumer than to the strictures of research purity. Research quality is an essential foundation of all our work. But quality shouldn't mean rigidity in the face of changing consumer needs and language.
Read my first post about the conference, Integrating Insights, here.
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