James Hammond, The Brand Doctor says:
I’ve never been a great fan of market research. Not because I don’t believe in it, but mainly the fact that I read so much nowadays of how research results have been skewed, flawed, biased…you name it, research appears to be guilty of it.
When it comes to branding and marketing, a great deal of research is undertaken using the self-report or questionnaire method, where participants provide information about their feelings, attitudes, beliefs and preferences by ticking the boxes of pre-determined questions. These can take the form of ‘closed’ questions (those that can be answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’) aimed at providing quantitative results, or ‘open’ questions that attempt to delve deeper into the whys and wherefores of choices made by respondents – qualitative answers. Alternatively, interviewers with a typical clipboard will ask pre-set questions and do the ‘ticking’ on therespondent’s behalf. Typical results from self-report/questionnaire ‘research’ – so called – pops up everywhere, especially on social media. Wild exaggerations and assumptions are made about pretty much everything, based on what a handful of people reported. That isn’t market research. It’s pure garbage.
The main problem is, researchers who use the self-report approach assume their participants are telling the truth. But there are a number of reasons as to why that’s not the case. They may be biased towards giving certain answers to questions because of their own beliefs. They may be uncertain of what to say and simply tick a box they think the researcher might want to see. There’s an assumption made by the researcher that the interpretation of questions is straight-forward, where that isn’t necessarily the case. Given that most of our decisions are made at the emotional level, it is difficult to obtain meaningful responses.
Respondents – and that includes you and me (because I’m sure we’ve all filled in a questionnaire at some time, whether it be via a street researcher or something on Survey Monkey) – don’t tell the truth.
There are many other reasons why such research is inherently flawed, but instead of me covering this subject, let me introduce you to someone who is an expert in finding out who is telling the truth, and who isn’t.
Her name is Adrianne Carter. Known as ‘The Face Whisperer’, my friend and business colleague is the Managing Director of D-Coded. Her company can tell you what your customers really think about what you do, by combining traditional market research methodologies with scientifically proven emotional analysis techniques. D-Coded Research specialises in the use of the ‘Facial Action Coding System’. In other words, Adrianne can detect when someone isn’t telling the truth by observing micro-facial expressions. (If you’ve ever watched ‘Lie To Me’, the brilliant TV series starring Tim Roth, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
Recently, I caught up with Adrianne in London, and interviewed her about her work. You can listen and download the recording here, which is accompanied by some slides. The interview is about 17 minutes long, so sit down, pour yourself a drink, and hear how ‘The Face Whisperer’ can reveal the truth about your customers.
Or download the audio file only here (about 16MB) by right-clicking on link and select your browswer’s Save As…, Save Link or whatever option your browser gives you: