First, an obvious point. We here at Dimensional Research truly believe in market research. We wouldn’t do it for a living or spend time blogging about it if we didn’t believe there was something fundamentally useful about going into the marketplace and getting feedback.
But a couple of things we saw and read this week made us pause and reflect on the value of what we do:
- A regular feature in a popular comedy show is “New Rules.” In a recent show, one of the new rules offered was “Online shopping sites must stop asking for my feedback.” This was the biggest applause line of the entire show. The audience loved it!
- We came across an interesting blog post from Tim Berry on Bad Research. Tim argues that it’s “Better to know what you don’t know than to make business decisions based on false information and false conclusions. If the focus group said red is better than green, nobody dares to argue for green. Even if green is really better, and the focus group was off, distorted by one very articulate and engaging green hater. Red it is.”
I understood the audience’s reaction to the “give me feedback” line. It’s frustrating to be asked to give feedback when you don’t believe it matters or don’t believe it will change anything. And I get where Tim’s angst about research comes from, especially the scenario he talks about which looks like a clear case of a “Fascinating Outlier“.
Does the research industry need their own version of the Hippocratic Oath where we swear to “first do no harm?”: We solemnly swear that we will not frustrate customers while getting their input and we will not use research to mis-inform.
We think that the learning here isn’t not to do research, it’s this: Do GOOD research.