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Preference & Beyond

May 11, 2006 - by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail:

If you are in the consumer research business and want to expand your client base, I suggest that you contact the members of the Research & Development Departments among your current client population. Most of the research I see today, unlike that of the past, seems to be focused on acceptance or preference. There is another world of consumer research that deals with discrimination, performance and habits & practices that appears to be missing in today's world of research.


My 50 years of consumer research says that preference research should be just a small part of the consumer research duties. The work should cover establishing attribute limits for Quality Control, identifying the parameters for the variables in Laboratory Testing, determining Performance Testing results, identifying the Consumer's Needs, understanding the Consumer's Language, identifying and evaluating New Ideas, conducting Habits & Practices research, etc.


Preference research is not only relatively easy to do compared to the other areas of research, but preference is also, as a rule, much less costly to conduct.


Consider just the work that goes into the designing of a Laboratory Test. If you are in the laundry detergent business, it is necessary to know what garments the typical wash load consists of, the weight of the typical wash load, the order of addition of the water/detergent/fabrics, the household water hardness, the various water temperatures utilized, what additives are used and when, the type of equipment being used, the concentration of detergent, etc.


If your clients really want to be major players in the business, they must not only know the type of information cited above, but they must also know how each of the variables affects the performance of their brand. In my Views of December 20, 2004, titled "A cup is a cup or is it really a cup?" I outline the variability in what the consumer calls a “cup.”  When the homemaker says she uses one cup of detergent and she measures the product, how much product is actually used? Is it really a cup? If not, why not? To see this Views, go to the web site


Next week I will outline the complexity involved in identifying simple laboratory test parameters.

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