18 September 2008

The end of consumer surveys?

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Advertising Age is waking up to a situation which for us in the experience design community has been apparent for many years: simple question-and-answer consumer surveys are not sufficient to be “in touch with the lifestyles of consumers”.

“After issuing dire warnings about the future of consumer surveys, the two biggest advertisers and buyers of market research in the world — Procter & Gamble and Unilever — are linking with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) for an industry effort to embrace online chatter and other naturally occurring feedback like never before.

“Without transforming our capabilities into approaches that are more in touch with the lifestyles of the consumers we seek to understand, the consumer-research industry as we know it today will be on life support by 2012,” Kim Dedeker, VP-external capability leadership, global consumer and market knowledge at P&G, said in a statement provided by the ARF.

To tackle the issue, the ARF will hold two industry summits in the coming six weeks to support new ways of listening to consumers that don’t involve the traditional question-and-answer format.”

Nice also this quote, which could come out of any book on user-centred design:

“You can’t ask people what they want, because what they say and what they do are two different things,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior VP-research and sales for ESPN, another backer of the ARF effort. “We can actually improve our [initiative’s] success rate if we just listen a bit more … on a passive basis.”

The article then goes on about the alternatives such as mining insights from blogs, social networks, consumer comments to websites, but doesn’t mention qualitative tools.

Interestingly, the ARF initiative seems to reflect a larger paradigm shift, “that could help research shed its uncool image and move researchers beyond today’s primary role as gatekeepers toward idea generators.”

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(via Fallon Planning)

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