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

Mixed Feedback

In July, I sent out a Views titled, "Uncovering New Opportunities (with a limited budget."  The Views has stimulated some interesting and mixed feedback.  None of the feedback was of a negative nature as it related to the article.  It was either neutral or favorable.  However, the response was negative, in some cases, as it related to the market research profession, or more appropriately those within the profession.

On the positive side, there was good feedback on the ease and effectiveness of some of the methods cited in the paper.  Respondents cited the simplicity of the Negative Brand Share and the Category Accepted Belief methods.  The use of these methods led to new perspectives as they related to both their brands and the brand categories.  The more enthusiastic responses were directed to the respondent's In-Home Observation Research.

One respondent stated that he felt I had lost touch with the market research profession.  He stated that there is very little personal involvement in market/consumer research among those working in the market/consumer research departments of large companies.  My friend said he felt that there were two large categorical reasons for the lack of involvement.  The first revolved around management while the second was the result of the individual.

The feeling was that Management had down-sized the departments to the extent that there was little time to devote to any single project/problem.  Along with the down-sizing came drastic cuts in the research budgets.  The result of the two moves has caused the researchers to go outside of the company and contract the work to be handled by an agency at the lowest possible cost.

In the second category, there appears to be a reluctance on the part of the market researcher to get involved even after setting aside the "lack of time" factor.  From my friend's point of view, there are a number of reasons for the reluctance to get involved, other than time.  The reasons run the gamut from laziness, inexperience, to insecurity.

From my personal perspective, I don't know about the laziness, however, I do know that I had people in my department that when faced with a task, would not hesitate to immediately pick up the phone and call someone to do the work.  I can understand the insecurity motivation.  A couple of years ago as a key note speaker at a national convention in Atlanta, I was talking on the topic of "keeping the Pipeline full."  A question following the presentation was, "What do you think is the biggest problem in consumer research today?"  My first response was "Fear of Failure."  Companies have become Risk Adverse.  You fail, you are out.  We penalize failure rather than embracing it.  We should encourage risk, welcome risk, and reward risk taking.  From a personal standpoint, I have never learned anything from a success, but have learned a lot from each and every failure.  If you are not making mistakes, you are not doing anything new.  If you are doing nothing new, you are not learning.

The inexperience problem should be the easiest to solve.  Each market/consumer research department should have an on-going development program.  It can be easy as well as cheap.  For example, bring back retired employees to share their insights, bring in lecturers from other companies/universities, and if you are really desperate, invite me.  You could even set up a "Consumer Encounter Training Program."  Ask me about it.

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

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