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

Where do You Place Your Confidence?

Research has been classified in terms such as sloppy, good and better, as well as many other adjectives.  Frequently it is not about what is done in the research but how and under what circumstances.  Consider some of the following examples:

If you were exploring a price for your brand, under which of the following two circumstances would you have the most confidence?
  1. brand and price in the absence of any competition, or
  2. your brand and its price in the presence of competition and their prices in a real store
If you were evaluating the graphic design of your brand's container, which would give you more confidence?
  1. your brand displayed by itself on a table in a back room of a mall, or
  2. your brand setting on a real store shelf in the presence of competition
If you were evaluating the brand's container copy, which would give you more confidence?
  1. your brand displayed by itself on a table by itself, or
  2. your brand displayed on a real store shelf among its competition
If you want to know if your new brand will sell, which scenario would give you greater confidence?
  1. homemakers recruited in a mall and asked to pretend they are about to purchase a brand from your category, or
  2. homemakers making a purchase in a real store where your brand is present among all the shoppers' alternatives for purchase
Which of the two types of participants do you prefer in your test?
  1. testers - respondents that are present to do a test, or
  2. shoppers - respondents who are present to do their shopping
For my point of view, the last question is a trick question.  I believe that the answer depends on the problem.  Yes, I believe there are times when I want testers and times when I want to be using shoppers.  This is one of the first questions I address in every test.  There is a difference and it is a big difference.  Does your supplier know the difference and do they have the available resources to handle each?

The above are just a few of the considerations we need to address in our research.  Selecting a #1 from the pairs above usually is associated with research almost anyone can execute while the #2 versions are those that require specific skills and resources.  I prefer the #2's because I believe that the natural shopping environment yields more valid results.

One of the very few companies skilled at in-store research is Sorensen Associates, the sponsor of the Views.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company -- Dedicated to the relentless pursuit of - WHY?

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