Trilogy Tidings
September 2016
in this issue
     A recent discussion with a client seeking assistance in collecting opinions from their existing customers reminded me of the greatest market research temptation: Trying to learn too much. That's actually a big problem. I explain why.

     Then I address the sometimes unappreciated value of the spoken word in new-product research.

Obsessive Focus is the Key to Market Research Success     
     Ours is not primarily a market research practice. But market research is often an important ingredient in appropriately advising our management consulting clients on strategy, business growth, and new-product commercialization. So we conduct a lot of MR along the way - or we encourage our clients to do so.
      Here's the greatest MR temptation: "Our research respondents are challenging to recruit, so once we get 'em on the phone or online we need to collect as much data and insight as possible." That's an understandable attitude and a natural human trait; it's also a really bad idea. Let me count the ways: (1) It wastes your respondents' time and generates impatience, which reduces the reliability of acquired data over time. (2) It muddies the water and detracts from the most critical findings of your research. (3) It increases your research costs and calendar time unnecessarily.
     This inclination to gather as much data as possible is by far the most important failing that I see -- and attempt to correct -- in the stated objectives and draft discussion guides and surveys provided by our clients. Far better to obsessively focus only on what you really need to know to inform the important decision(s) you need to make. Your findings will be more relevant, your respondents will be grateful, and your CFO will be pleased. That kind of focus is hard to maintain, especially since each of your corporate colleagues has a slightly different idea about what they would like to learn. Resist the temptation and soldier on!
      The other great MR trap is underestimating the importance of precise language and semantics. (This problem is much more prevalent in online and paper surveys than in personal or telephone dialogs.) It's challenging to achieve the goal that every respondent will understand each question precisely as you meant it. You just need to think carefully about alternative meanings and test each question with a few internals and friendly respondents before your survey goes live.
     By way of digging deeper, if you're responsible for conducting or sponsoring market research for your organization, here are just a few of the many resources that are worthy of your attention:

Tap the Value of the Spoken Word     
     Here's some more MR wisdom: Recognize the added value of the spoken word over and above the written word.
     Now that online surveys have become a common research tool, one that is (deceptively) easy to perform, it's important to remember that how a question is answered or how a point is made can add great value and insight to your inquiries. Translation: Don't ignore the added value of phone dialogs, personal interviews, and live focus groups.
     A recent article by Danica Allen, " A New Model for Concept Evaluation", brings this point home effectively. While her piece is focused on evaluating potential new consumer products, the very same concepts apply to any new products. I think the best way to prove the added value of the spoken word is to quote her own words. So .....
"Compared to scales, spoken or written language is infinitely more nuanced and - depending upon the speaker - able to convey extremely complex attitudes, feelings and emotions."
"Written prose tends to hide a great deal of context and development behind ideas and opinions."
"How something is said can contain as much meaning as the words that are spoken."
"The results suggested that respondents who verbalized their reactions provided an average of 83 words per stimulus, while those who typed produced an average of just 14 words."

Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.
     And, you can examine my Newsletter Archive of prior Trilogy Tidings (since February 2007).
What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Opportunity assessment
  • Business planning and enterprise growth strategies
  • New-product conceptualization, commercialization and marketing
  • Market research and competitive assessment
  • Business development and partnering
  • Market and technological due diligence
  • Assessment of the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of novel technologies
  • Design of efficient and effective development strategies for early-stage biomedical products
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.

Contact Information
ContactInfoJoseph J. Kalinowski, Principal
LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/trilogy