November 16, 2006
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am not talking about truth in that 1 + 1 = 2, but Truth in Judgment Choices such as, which works better, what cleans better, what smells, looks, tastes better. These Judgment Choices are components of the Pie Model in the Ruler vs. Pie Concept.
Webster defines Truth as Reality. But reality to whom? (What does this have to do with consumer research? We will get to that later.) We have often heard the saying that, "Truth is in the eye of the beholder." My grandson, a history major that I will never argue history with, states that is why history appears biased to many. As he says, it is always from the point of view of the victor. How true, the losers are not around to defend their position.
In my early days at P&G, we had a saying, if there were three people walking up a hill, each using a different path and you asked them to describe a specific tree at the top of the hill, you would get three accurate but different descriptions. The tree takes on a different appearance depending on the path you are taking. (Now, we are getting close to a consumer research principle.)
As a point of reference, consider some reading I have been doing during the past week about the emergence of consumer research in industry. In almost all of the writings, this emergence seems to appear in the early to late 70s. These writings are from publications by people outside of industry, mostly college professors. Their perspective is quite different than mine. I started working at P&G in 1951, inside industry. At that time, there was not only a large Market Research Department but there was a Consumer Research group, however much smaller, serving R&D. The Market Research Department at P&G was created in 1923 under the direction of Dr. Smelser.
I believe that 1923 is a lot earlier than the 1970s. The reason for this different point of view is the position of those making the observation. In industry where the data are utilized, they develop methods and practices that are considered proprietary, and therefore do not publicize their methods or research. Actually we were prohibited from issuing any publications. Why tell your competition about the tools you use in your research? The college professors view the growth of the research from publications and work they are contracted to perform for industry, work that is not considered proprietary.
What does all this have to do with Consumer Research today? Consider one of the early findings of Dr. Smelser, "tests have to be made on products in actual use." Each consumer has his/her own particular need, a true Pie Market. If we truly want to evaluate a product, we must include people from different walks of life, different geographical locations, different backgrounds, etc. Each will view your product from a different perspective. Each have different needs and desires. Each will have a different set of priorities. Each will have a different assessment of your product. It is all about research, research and more research, til you understand the market and the potential market profile.