The Rebel (Archetypes #2)

Nov 25 2012 Published by neilgains under archetypes

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.”  - Albert Camus

In the last post I discussed the Joker archetype, and talked about Richard Branson, who combines the wit and spontaneity of the Joker with the disruptive challenge of the Rebel, the subject of this article. Another classic Rebel is Steve Jobs, and anyone who reads his biography can’t fail to be struck by his unconventional and disruptive behaviour, which emerged in his early hippy adventures, his extreme diets and fads, and his rudeness to those who didn’t see the world in the same way as he did. While Richard Branson is on the more gregarious side of rebelliousness, Steve Jobs was on the more individualistic exploratory side, carving a sometimes lonely path to his own vision of freedom. Read more »

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Changing Habits

Nov 02 2012 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

In the last blog I discussed how the cognitive biases fall into five main themes or categories (read here). But how do these biases relate to habitual behaviours and more importantly to behavioural change? In fact the biases are mostly influenced by contextual factors and the emotional rewards that we all seek. Read more »

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Storytelling in Research

Sep 22 2012 Published by neilgains under insight

As market research has developed it has become more remote from the people it wishes to understand.  Technology is a great enabler, but also creates an artificial barrier between the researcher and customer. Similarly, short and narrowly focused questions and prompts encourage short and narrowly focused answers, missing the full story of human behaviour and failing to capture the goals, emotions and context of decision making. Read more »

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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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Orangemen and Green Hats: How to Send the Right Colour Signals

Jul 23 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Here are three questions about colour that I will answer before you finish reading this:

  • Have carrots always been orange?
  • Is darker chocolate always more bitter?
  • What colour of hat should you never offer a Chinese man?

We all know that colours have powerful meanings, and semiotics is the study of all signs and their meanings. Signs include shapes, smells, facial expressions, body movements, sounds and colours. Read more »

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Researching, Fast and Slow

Jun 25 2012 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman provides a comprehensive and readable summary of how we all make decisions (probably the best overview you will ever read). In doing so he completely buries the already tarnished view of human behaviour as ‘homo economicus’ (rational decision maker) and demonstrates clearly and precisely that we are far from paragons of reason. Read more »

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Meanings in Time (Introduction to Semiotics Part 5)

May 31 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

The times they are a changin’

I’ve been busily preparing myself for the new James Bond film later this year, by spending each weekend rewatching one of the films (in order). What has struck me most while watching them is how the portrayal of the central character and his relationships to others (especially women) has changed over time, despite the consistency in the plot structures (which is where I left off in the last article). Read more »

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Categories and Context (Introduction to Semiotics Part 3)

May 20 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Everything in context

The second key principle of semiotics is that any sign needs a context to make its meaning clear. For example, although the word ‘CAT’ in many contexts signifies a cat, on a building site or clothes shop it may signify something else (a construction equipment brand which has now branched into fashion). 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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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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