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What Do Consumers Think? Don’t Even Bother Asking

Ron Sellers has come up with an acerbic and thought provoking article in Brandweek, about why we continue to ask people research questions they can’t possibly hope to answer accurately.

Ron Sellers, the new agent provocateur of the research world, is causing all the right kinds of trouble again! His firm, Grey Matter Research & Consulting has had hundreds of requests for their report Dirty Little Secrets of Online Panels, which details common practices of online panels that ensure problems for your research.  He has followed that up with an equally acerbic and thought provoking  article in Brandweek, about why we continue to ask people research questions they can’t possibly hope to answer accurately. Here’s the link…

I’ve gone on record for a while now that i think the research industry needs a major overhaul at almost all levels, with the biggest one being how we engage with respondents. If we want to truly understand what motivates consumers, then we need to get into their heads and hearts and adapt the science of research design and technique to allow us greater insight, not just data points. This is one of the great promises of new online techniques based on social media.

Ron says it best in his article:

While consumers can give you direct feedback on what message they received from an ad (what they remembered about it, whether they liked it, etc.), they simply cannot tell you—much less as a response to one question—whether your new ad (or new brand strategy, packaging, logo or tagline) will make them more likely to buy your product.

Some marketers understand this. The best way to approach the issue is to ask consumers how they perceive brands, what emotional value those brands hold for them, whether they understood the intended message of the advertising and what perceptual impact a prospective logo or tagline carries. The value, in other words, lies in the interpretation of consumers’ responses far more than from the raw responses themselves.

MR prides itself on helping companies innovate; can we do the same for ourselves?

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3 responses to “What Do Consumers Think? Don’t Even Bother Asking

  1. Excellent point – one that most qualitative consultants have been suggesting to their clients for years. Problem is that qualitative methods require a judgement call – there are no hard metrics that one can use as a crutch.

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