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Avoiding the Professional Respondent and Getting a Glimpse at a Consumer's Real World

The other night I was watching some late night TV and I saw a commercial for a Big Spot Surveys promoting its website bigspot.com. While it is not the best commercial - it is not funny, not really visually interesting, nor is it especially well done - it got me thinking. Market research has really become big business ' from a consumer point of view. Having spent the majority of my career in the research business, I am very much aware of the professional focus group respondent and professional survey takers but I think that this Big Spot commercial really hammered home the point that participating in research has truly become a job for some people ' especially given the current economic climate. So what does this mean? It means that there are consumers who have become extremely savvy when it comes to research. They know what to say to get chosen to participate in the research, they understand what different brands are looking for, and they are looking to please the researchers so that they could get more 'work.'? All of this added up could mean that brands who take the right steps and conduct research might not be getting the answers that they are looking for. They might be getting a glossy, half version of what consumers really think and believe. The trouble is that many of the 'powers that be'? that require the numbers and stats, need to see respondents on the other side of the glass. So how do you get to that real answer? There are a couple of different ways. One way is to employ a more rigorous screening process to make sure that the consumers that participate are not the professional ones. Another way is to mix up the research methodologies that you use to get to the answers. For example, combine a more traditional online survey with a non-traditional research methodology such as an ethnographic study or observational research. Combining traditional and non-traditional research methodologies - benefits brands in two ways ' they can satisfy the higher ups and they can potentially uncover insights they haven't seen before. Non-traditional research can give you a glimpse into the consumer's real world. It allows you to get to know consumers without them knowing you are trying to get to know them. Today's consumers are savvy. They understand all our 'marketing'? tricks. They are onto us. And when it comes to research they have started to play our game. Some of them are playing better than us. As marketers and researchers we need to work harder to understand what they think, feel and believe. We need to dig deeper and find new ways to get into their world so we can find our answers and insights. We need to get a little bit more creative.

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