Planning, Startups, Stories

Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

What I Hate About Market Research…

… is when the research stifles common sense and kills discussion. And I think that happens a lot. For example:analysis

So it isn’t that I don’t want information. It’s a matter of information that takes on more certainty than warranted. I like research to be there, used, considered, but taken with healthy skepticism. If it doesn’t seem right, it might not be. Whether you call it research or not.

Does that make sense?

(Image: Adam Radosavljevic/Shutterstock)

5 responses to “What I Hate About Market Research…”

  1. My favorite is the “market research” question that contains the answer you want to hear. “Mr Prospect, would you pay $1 for a product that washed the dishes, mowed the grass, and guaranteed you’d win the lottery?”

    And right behind that is the problem of “framing” — especially price. If you start asking “Would you pay $1” and go up in price, then by the time you get to “$3”, the respondent already feels like he’s paying too much. If you start with $100 and go down in price, you’ll find the same people think that $50 is a bargain!

    Happens to us all the time. The only good market research is observing how people already do what they do and trying to figure out why. Proposing a solution almost always kills the objectivity.

  2. Ivan Walsh says:

    Hi Tim,

    When I worked in Asis, they would do v little research, eg focus groups etc, and just launch.

    And those that survived we’re refined and then relaunched again.

    Survival of the fittest approach…


  3. Alan Palmer says:

    The only thing worse than no research is bad research.
    Your examples show poor research planning and methodology.

    In your focus group example an experienced focus group mediator would have been able to reduce the influence of the personality that liked green and led the group through discussion about the other colours. A focus group is meant to be supplemental research to explore results already found in broader market research.

    As for the customer survey that went out to the wrong people, that means the research is flawed, invalid and should not be used.

    Your examples seem to be based around people going through the motions of conducting research but not being smart about it. In these cases the data collected is about as useful as “common sense” or a guess in decision making.

    • Tim Berry says:

      Alan, yes, … bad research is worse than no research. Exactly my point.

      I suspect from your comment that you think bad research is rare. My take is after several years as a VP in a market research firm, and a lot more years reading a hundred or so business plans every year as frequent judge in business plan contests and, for the last three years, a member of an angel investor group. And I see 10 examples of flawed research for every one that seems, on the surface at least, to be valid.

  4. Amy Tobin says:

    Makes All kinds of sense. ROI is as overused as LOL.

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