Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

DIY Surveys

After reading Bill MacElroy's article in the February issue of Quirk's, I hope I am not contributing to the problems he is focused on pertaining to poor research as a result of the "Do it Yourself" movement.  Bill's concerns center around the pressure on market research departments to cut expenses.  This forces departments with pending decisions to avoid the traditional route of approaching the MR department, meeting to discuss the objectives, transforming the objectives into a research plan.  Instead, they are frequently moving to using low-cost, off-the-shelf survey tools.  What these tools do not provide is the education and experience to create good research.

Over the years, I have been actively pushing for the people who use market research  results to get out from behind their desks and interact with the consumer.  There are major problems as a result of those using market research and not knowing the consumer.  In most cases, if they left their office and walked down the street and bumped into a consumer, they would not recognize her/him.

First and foremost, people using market research must understand the consumer.  They should know how the consumer performs household tasks, including how they shop.  They should also know the words and phrases the consumer uses, especially those that describe good and poor performance of the products.  They should know the limitations of the consumer.  It is all about knowing and understanding the consumer.

Over the years, I have frequently spoken and written about what I call the 3 Es of research, Exploratory, Experimental and Evaluative.  The first two, Exploratory and Experimental, are all about the Learning and Understanding phases of research.  While the third E, Evaluative, is the Decision Making phase of research.  It is in this third phase of research, Evaluative, where the DIY methods need to be restricted.  As my grandchildren would say, this is where the rubber hits the road.  This is where you need the professionals, those who understand the problems with sampling, analysis and biases associated with wording, environments, locations, etc., of research.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Exploratory phase of research, we should expect DIY research.  We should encourage interaction with the consumer.  We should hope that the research would want to be an expert on knowing and understanding the consumer.  Only whit this knowledge will the researcher truly appreciate the complexity of good research.
A SHARED OPPORTUNITY -- If you have a need for someone who knows the 3 Es of research from start to finish, read on.
Last week I made my annual visit to meet with the students of the University of Georgia's Master of Marketing class.  The class of '03 is completing the academic requirements and a number of these students are seeking jobs/internships.  Several of the available students have experience in the marketing research industry and all have completed a rigorous program of course work.  Anyone interested in exploring employment opportunities with this group should contact Dr. Srinivas Reddy, Director, Center of Marketing Studies, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, at 706.542.3759, or James Meyer,, 706.542.0426.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company 

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