Answers without Questions

Sep 13 2012 Published by neilgains under insight

I believe that market research still relies far too much on direct questions and answers and that many current practices in research suffer from serious flaws. There are three big problems in relying on direct question and answer approaches:

  1. They do not take account of the different systems in the brain
  2. They too often ignore the importance of context (and it’s role in memory)
  3. The act of asking questions can itself change the answers you get Read more »

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Report Writing Standards (Again)

Jul 19 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

In the latest issue of Research, Gill Wales writes about the standard of market research reports and it’s depressing reading (link here). The article, ‘Will this do?’, cites examples of where market research companies fail to deliver value and suggests that the problem is endemic. I agree based on what I see in my work, and it’s a topic that has come up frequently in this blog (for example in “Show me the money” and “5 questions every innovative researcher needs to ask”. Read more »

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Asking Questions Without Asking The Question

Apr 20 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

Curiosity has it’s own reasons (Einstein)

The lifeblood of market research is curiosity and curiosity is a great thing in all aspects of life (as Einstein said so eloquently on several occasions). Market researchers are very adept (and trained) to ask lots of questions, but I think we ask far too many and should ask far fewer and be smarter in the way we design research in order to do that. Let me be clear from the start. Asking questions in market research is very often at best a waste of time, and at worst positively misleading. Read more »

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Big Data, Big Changes?

Apr 09 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

What will the entry of Google into market research mean for the industry?

Google Consumer Surveys is a deceptively simple product. Limited questions, simple (and low) pricing, and the promise of focused customer feedback. Other DIY tools such as Survey Monkey (which I use regularly), have not yet gained strong traction, perhaps because they lack the access to consumers that is an important part of an agency’s service. Read more »

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Can Market Research Get Beyond Questions?

Dec 30 2011 Published by neilgains under market research

The future of questions

Everyone likes to make predictions as one year closes and another begins with fresh hopes, although fewer go back to check what they said previously (with some notable exceptions). Rather than make predictions, most of which are guaranteed not to happen, I would like to share a hope for how market research can reinvent itself for the future. In sharing my hope I can also share some of the changes that I believe will happen at some time in the near future (I would never be confident enough to say that it will be in 2012).

My big wish is that market research can start to get beyond its obsession with questions. Read more »

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The Science of Product Testing

Dec 24 2011 Published by neilgains under product testing

Market research and product testing

The history of product testing is long and can trace its path back to many diverse fields along a similar timespan to that of market research (back to the 1920s when the science was first introduced to manage product quality). Sensory science developed at a fast rate in the 1950s and 1960s, when different techniques for the ‘descriptive analysis’ of products were developed, starting with the flavor profile method, in the fast developments of the consumer goods industries which followed the end of the second world war. The science was boosted by the publication of Stevens’ landmark textbook on psychophysics in the mid-1970s and has come a long way in the last 50 years.

Read more »

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7 Reasons to Use Storytelling in Research

Oct 31 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

“The point of a story can penetrate far deeper than the point of any bullet.”  - Laurence Nault

Getting to the point

There are seven basic plots in storytelling as we have seen over the last few weeks. These plots form the backbone of myths, fairy tales, novels and movies, and also of advertising, brand stories and how we can all communicate in business, including market researchers telling the story of their data. Here are seven reasons why stories will help you communicate ideas more effectively, helping you to build your story and helping your audience to remember the point of it all. Read more »

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What Shape is Your Thinking?

Sep 24 2011 Published by neilgains under insight

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.”  - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Connecting the dots

Are you drowning in the sea of data yet? As the world becomes more and more complex, with more and more information to understand and less and less time to do this, the importance of integrative thinking becomes more and more important. In The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin presents a number of convincing business case studies, including A.G. Lafley at P&G, Jack Welch at GE, Michael Lee-Chin at AIC and Martha Graham (who revolutionised modern dance) of integrative thinking.  The common thread in these examples and others is that all of them demonstrate the ability to see problems from a range of perspectives, think in terms of total systems and not component parts, and simplify complex ideas into straight forward (and often disruptive) solutions to problems. Read more »

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Full Frontal Presentations

Jul 26 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

“To express yourself as you are is the most important thing.”  - Shunryu Suzuki

Bathhouse presentations

In his latest book on presenting, Garr Reynolds urges presenters to get naked and focus on the natural behaviour which can help establish a personal connection with an audience despite the technology, tools and effects which can sometimes create a barrier between you and others.  This means being direct, honest and clear with your audience, focusing on the core of your message and stripping away unnecessary distractions and irrelevant information, in the same way that we all stood up for our ‘show and tell’ at school without the encumbrance of powerpoint and other distractions. Read more »

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Are You Available?

Jul 13 2011 Published by neilgains under business

“It is impossible for ideas to compete in the marketplace if no forum for their presentation is provided or available.”  - Thomas Mann

“Always within an arm’s reach of desire.”  - Robert Woodruff (former chairman of Coca-Cola)

Getting connected

In the final chapter of How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp focuses on the key to great marketing: making your brand easy to buy.  There are two aspects to making brands available which are covered extensively throughout the book: mental availability (something discussed at length in this blog previously) and physical availability.  He argues (based on empirical evidence) that product innovation only works when a brand is salient and well distributed, through distinctive and clear branding and breadth and depth of distribution. Read more »

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