3 tell-tale signs of “all fur coat and no knickers” research

Customer insights have never been more accessible to business owners – technology has made the process quicker and cheaper and finally the industry has focussed on providing the customer with what they need (visually stimulating summaries/infographics, video briefing etc.) rather than long dry reports.

The process is more flexible – real time information means that the focus of a project can be tweaked or changed if the results are slightly different from those that may have been expected.

Finally good researchers have skilled up, as Ray Poynter indicates in this great blog (https://www.visioncritical.com/how-market-researchers-thrive-faster-cheaper/)

However I feel that the fundamentals of good research are being forgotten – perhaps it was always this way, when I was learning my trade I was told by a senior consultant who was studying for an MBA estimated that 40% of research was flawed.

Personally I feel that there has been a rise in what I call “all fur coat and no knickers” research – projects that look great but are essentially worthless.  Although this is purely based on my own experience, these are the three main pitfalls I keep coming across:

  1. The research does not provide enough robust evidence to allow a client to make an informed decision. Budgets etc can mean that there have to be trade offs, but the research plan needs to be focussed on the business issue.
  2. This has become a big problem due to the proliferisation of surveys and the fact that perceptions of the process is either as part of a sales process or because they take 40 minutes rather than the 5 suggested. There are ways to minimise sampling options – techniques to increase response rates, having a mixed method approach and weighting, but this needs to designed into a project before starting.
  3. Quality assurance and analysing information. Analysis starts with the quality of the information you are collecting – not just statistical significance, but the quality of answers that you have – have individuals replied more than once, have they just picked the middle answer or simply do their answers make sense.

If you want to have a chat about a research programme please give me a call.

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