Market research pratfalls

Tom Hamilton had me laughing this morning with this comment.

I spent much of yesterday travelling from London to Leeds and back by train and on the return journey I was handed a market research questionnaire for me to fill in to tell GNER what I thought of various aspects of their service. It included the following question:

Please tell us how far you agree with the following statements about GNER catering:

1) GO EAT from GNER provides fresh local food.

Local food? I’m on an intercity train. I’m travelling hundreds of miles at high speed. I have no idea what it would mean to say that the food I’ve bought in the buffet car is local (from Yorkshire? from London? from somewhere in between?); I’m inclined to assume that it isn’t local or that even if it was five minutes ago it isn’t any more; and I don’t care.

He also points to Chris Dillow’s related post containing this coverage from The Times of another case of the perils of market research:

Unveiling the final episode of the current run yesterday, Russell T. Davies, the writer, revealed that pre-transmission market research suggested that the BBC was heading for a £10 million disaster. He said: The research found that no one wanted to watch Doctor Who. Kids said it was a programme for their parents. The parents said it was a dead show. I expected it to die a death after one year. The research paper, based on interviews with viewers, is now gathering dust in a BBC marketing executive’s drawer. It found that viewers thought Doctor Who was a niche series for science fiction geeks, far from the family audience BBC One was seeking. The flop Thunderbirds feature-film revival was raised as a discouraging comparison. But the series has attracted seven million viewers, obliterating ITV1’s Saturday night competition, while remaining a critical success.

5 thoughts on “Market research pratfalls

  1. Alex Schleifer

    Market research is so hit and miss you have to wonder what it’s any good for. The new Bugs Bunny was the result of market research (more on that rubbish here) and apparently gaming superhit The Sims nearly didn’t make it off the ground because of negative market research (probably lacked guns and you know, extreme action and stuff). Would The Simpsons have gotten favourable reviews?

    I doubt it. Yet millions are spent on getting a bunch of people to answer questionaires and watch prototypes every year, go figure.

    Reply
  2. Adrian Trenholm

    It also shows how even a good concept – in this case “local food” – can be hijacked and devalued by marketers. “Local food” will come to mean “local food which isn’t really local, but the seller like to call it that, because that’s what the consumer told the seller that he wanted.”

    The average consumer will start to equate “local food” with scam. Then anyone who is selling genuinely local food will have to work that much harder to overcome the perception.

    Reply
  3. Broadband and Me

    Market research pratfalls

    Market research pratfalls Just wanted to reference this partly because of my own experience of travelling on GNER (which was quite good – although the people on the food trolley were quite miserable), partly because of continuing ‘pratfalls’ of any…

    Reply
  4. Broadband and Me

    Market research pratfalls

    Market research pratfalls Just wanted to reference this partly because of my own experience of travelling on GNER (which was quite good – although the people on the food trolley were quite miserable), partly because of continuing ‘pratfalls’ of any…

    Reply
  5. Paul Goodison

    I was on GNER last week. Bought some very tasty premium crisps from… Devon.

    Sandwich from Leicester.

    Irn Bru from Glasgow.

    I might be wrong but these are all ‘local’ foods – just not anywhere near GNER’s route of the East Coast Main line (railway geek mode).

    (of course I wasn’t in first class enjoying the restaurant 🙂 )

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.