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

New & Different

During a conversation with a Views reader concerning the S.P.A.C.E. Technique, I was asking why, when I asked for a Uniqueness rating, I phrased the questions "Overall, how would you rate this product in terms of being different from other products?"  The reader pointed out that all other companies with which he had worked used the phrase "New and Different."  My response was that the decision was easy and it was based on personal interviewing experience.  It seems that while conducting an interview on a New Tide, Clothes Line Fresh, I asked the test participant how she would rate the New Tide for being "New and Different"?  To which the respondent replied, "On which do you want me to evaluate the New Tide, on being New or on being Different.  It is not new but it is different."

Now what was my objective, to determine how different the respondent perceived the New Tide to be or how new?  I knew it was new.  I really wanted to know how different she perceived the Tide to be.  I guess there may be times when we are interested in how attractive the words are to the consumer.  However, in almost all research I have been associated with, our objective is to understand the relationship of the product to the attribute in question.

How often do we ask the respondent to evaluate a multiple attribute phrase?  Consider not only the "New & Different,"  but "Fast & Easy," "Soft & Fluffy," "Strong & Absorbent," "Soft & Absorbent," "Nice & Easy," "Quick & Easy," "Clean & Shiny," "Soft & Creamy," etc.  It goes on and on.  As a result of this experience and following research, I decided that I would never include either the word "and" or "or" in a question.  In either case, I do not know what the operative word is when the consumer is responding.

A second point to note is that I would have probably never uncovered this opportunity to sharpen my research had I not been doing the interviewing myself.  I had a habit of interviewing at least one day a month even up to the final year of my career.  There is no replacement for that personal contact.  Do yourself a favor, spend time with your consumers.  As I have often said, "The poorest view of the world is from behind your desk."

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