Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Whose Answers Are They Anyway?

We recently received one of those short (?) questionnaires that will only take a few minutes (?) of your time, questionnaires sent through the mail.  The so-called short questionnaire contained two parts.  The first part was a 248-question survey.  The second part was contained in an envelope that was not to be opened until after completing the first questionnaire.  Yes, sure, no one will open it before completing the first questionnaire.  [Note:  If it is important that they do not open it prior to the completion of the first questionnaire, why not use a second mailing?  Or is it not really that important?]

I have serious questions about this type of research where we seem to strive to get as many numbers as possible for our dollar.  I did say "numbers" and not information.  I feel that there is a diminishing return as it relates to the number of questions and time spent by the respondent on a project.  We get more numbers but do we really get more information or is it disinformation?

But my most important concern is that the responses are not really those of the respondent.  In this case there were questions about things that:
  • We never thought of.
  • We never considered.
  • We never knew of
Given the increased awareness of possibilities,  are the responses attributed to the thinking and experiences of the respondent or that of the researcher?  Or is it somewhere in between?  Or is it the thinking of someone who does not really exist?

I believe the same problem exists, to some extent, in the responses to the seven concepts.  The respondent when responding to the first concept is making judgments based on his/her experiences (and maybe the biases of the previous questionnaire).  But after the first concept, how does the respondent judge the second concept without including the thoughts just planted via the first concept?  I don't think they can.  Their world has a new element inserted through the first concept.  By the time the respondent reaches the seventh concept the product category world is well beyond the respondent's world of today.

In the end, who if anyone, does the evaluation belong to?  Are the data reliable?  Are the data valid?  Is it really data or some set of fictional thoughts?  I don't even like calling it research, do you?

I consider it a really great compliment.

Last week I got a call from Dr. Eric Schulz, a former Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola & Disney employee and now a marketing consultant as well as a professor at the University of Utah.  He informed me that the Views are recommended reading for the MBA students at the University.  I really appreciate the recommendation and the fact that there is importance in the Views other than keeping the old man off the street and out of my wife's hair.

While I'm at it, I would like to thank Dr. Steve Hellebusch of Hellebusch Research & Consulting and professor at Xavier University as well as the Xavier MBA Students for allowing me to present my ideas on market research in their class last week.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company -- Dedicated to the relentless pursuit of - WHY?

[Back] [Index] [Forward]