Market Research: Clerks and Researchers
July 6, 2005
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In our world of market research, we have both clerks and researchers. Unfortunately, there are times when we are in a situation where the clerk is posing as a researcher. I have never seen a researcher pose as a clerk. We need both but only when they are operating in the appropriate environment.
Clerks are great at collecting numbers, moving numbers around, putting together the foundations for reports, collecting historical data, sorting and maintaining files, etc. You do not want them designing or analyzing your research. Clerks collect and assemble numbers without regard to the who, what, when, where and how of the numbers. Ask them to do a research project and they will select the fastest, easiest and cheapest protocol available without regard to reliability or validity.
The researcher on the other hand is one motivated by the validity of the results. It is their reputation at risk. They can be a royal pain in the posterier but all for a good reason. They are motivated to collect data not numbers. They are interested in understanding the variables within a project. The researcher will be concerned with who is supplying the data, the environment under which the study is conducted, the particulars involved in the selected protocol, etc. And finally they will assess the impact of these test variables on the results.
Let me give you an example of a Clerk conducted research project in which I was involved. We had a major pending problem within the company concerning the appropriate aesthetics of a new brand. The person in charge of the project wanted to use a new (to the company) central location research protocol. In the protocol, each participant was to test a series of pairs of products. I noticed that there was no record of the order in which the pairs were tested nor was there any record of the order of presentation within each pair. I mentioned this to the person in charge of the project and received what I considered to be a startling response. He stated that he did not want any record of the test variables. If he collected them, he would be expected to look at the results by the variables and if there were any differences, he would have to explain them. To me, he was collecting numbers and not data. The focus was on job completion and not problem solving. Both Clerks and Researchers provide a valuable service to the market research profession. It is only when one moves out of their element that problems occur and they can be very serious. Like any skilled artisan, you have various tools in your tool box. It is important to use each tool for the appropriate task, a Clerk for clerk tasks and Researchers for research.
Note: In the above, the classification of researcher and clerk has nothing to do with educational background or the corporate rank of the individual. It has everything to do with the individual's mind set and dedication to research.
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