June 11, 2008

The Cost of Exploration

Throughout my career, I have conducted numerous research projects. You may have done so as well.

These projects have run the range of issues such as; music, entertainment, buying habits, behavior, packaged goods, and the list goes on. I love research but caution colleagues and clients on the importance of researching the research.

You must know what you want out of the research and that means asking the right questions to the right people.

Research is expensive and dangerous. You can spend thousands to get the wrong answers and steer your company in the wrong direction.

Lately, we are all talking about the price of oil and gas. We have become dependant on it so while the price continues to rise, our use does not subside. So we pay more at the pumps to drive our cars. But few of us spend much time talking about the fact that the price of strawberries has increased substantially in a decade. We eat just as many strawberries and put just as much fuel in our vehicles.

These issues are important when doing research. People do what they want to do – we may complain – but our behavior is slow to change.

Or perhaps the conflicts in the Middle East are about the safety of strawberry merchants?

So when you ask someone’s opinion who speaks for hundreds or thousands in a focus group or research project, remember – perception and convenience are not married. The real cost of exploration is thinking that research is a surefire solution.

Research is one of your many compasses but without proper input; you can get off course quickly. So ask carefully, spend wisely, and digest slowly.

Which reminds me; I need to fill the tank, I'm out of strawberries.


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