I know what it is but I don’t have the words for it…

Did you ever have one of those moments when you were asked to describe something and just couldn’t find the right words?  You say things like, “Words cannot convey how I feel about this.”  or “I’m speechless!”  Or just, “you know” you know?

It happens to me all of the time.

So why should I expect that a person in a market research study will have the words when we ask them a question?  We ask them how they feel about a particular brand and they just shrug their shoulders.  We wait.  They look around the room.  Then they say something, anything, just to break the tension of the situation.  We happily note their response, satisfied that we uncovered the truth about the brand!  We write it up in a report, using our own words to interpret what the person said.  We deliver it to a client and all is well in the world.  Right?

Perhaps not so right.  Perhaps the person in the study is just as inarticulate as I am.  They didn’t really have the right words to describe how they felt about that brand, because it was a feeling, not a formed thought.

Therein lies the fault with most market research as it is practiced today.  

We have an unstated expectation that the respondents can say what they mean.  More than that, we expect that they know consciously how they feel about brand.  Or anything else for that matter.  

Does this mean that all market research is wrong on brand??  No.  But it does mean that everything should be taken with a grain of salt.  And that non-verbal measures should be built into the research into brands whenever possible.

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