Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The
Second Beginning) E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
In preparing for a new talk, I was asked to specifically cover my
thoughts on why brands are failing at such a high rate. My first thought
was that I have covered that in my talk on "Researching Research." However,
that talk is a little dated. While still relevant, it does not cover
changes that seem to have come into play during the past four to five years.
While Researching Research deals with problems in uncovering new product
ideas, turning ideas into products and assessing the merits of a new product,
there have been changes that have nothing to do with research techniques.
These new changes deal with how management has changed with regards
When I was actively involved in brand research, we had years to bring an
idea to market. Today, it seems that management expects the process
to take only months. While I still have my P&G Product Launch model
binder sitting alongside other companies' plans like Toll Gate, Stage Gate
and Product Development Models, they seem to be out of date. Management
does not want to spend the time, effort and money necessary to develop an
idea to its full potential to succeed in the marketplace. The new management
model appears to be "Throw it together and put it on the market. If
it fails, pull it and if it succeeds, great." The mode is "reduce time
Another problem I recently encountered is the "Tunnel Vision" model. That
is, there is one way and only one way to do research regardless
of the product category or type of brand improvement. In a recent discussion,
I suggested a "Concept & Use" test. The client stated that they
did not believe in leading the test participants. It was a long discussion
that boiled down to me asking how he would evaluate the consumer acceptance
of an automatic dishwasher detergent that claimed to remove baked on food?
Consider that almost all users of automatic dishwashers will remove
residual food from the utensils before putting them into the dishwasher. To
evaluate this type of product benefit involves a change in habits, so you
have to tell the participant the "Reason for Being" of the brand so that
they can assess the delivery of promise. I think I made some headway
in his way of thinking. There should be options in research, depending
on the objective. It should never be this way or no way.
I have often talked about the limitations of sub-contracting or
the Preferred Supplier form of contracting. But one limitation I have
not discussed is the toolbox of the supplier. If the supplier has only
one tool in their toolbox, that will be the method of choice regardless of
the problem. If your supplier is in the transportation business and
they have a fleet of trucks, trucks will be the choice for distribution regardless
of the fact that trains, planes, ships or mail may be the best form of distribution.
This topic reminds me of the window manufacturer's commercial where
you see an overweight, cigar chomping person with a beat up old truck removing
a "Roofing" sign from the truck revealing another sign that says "Windows"
and saying "Today, we do windows."
You really would not expect a supplier to recommend a method they do not
have in house, do you? If you have a supplier that will recommend another
supplier because of their expertise, you have an exceptional partner. If
you have a bundle of Preferred Suppliers, each with expertise in a different
area, you are an exception. For your In-Store Expert, I hope it is Sorensen
Associates, the sponsor of my Views. I really believe
they are the best in the business when it comes to In-Store Research or as
I like to call it, "Assessment in Context."
Sponsor: Sorensen Associates Inc
Portland, OR 800.542.4321
Minneapolis, MN 888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company