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What a 1980s brand mascot taught me about research for 2019

Michael Edwards, one of the co-founders of Dig, provides his point of view on a trend that will impact research in 2019: micro research.

A trend that intrigues me is a move away from bloated methodologies that try to measure everything in favour of micro methodologies that measure one thing well. Using innovation testing as an example (mostly because we do a lot of it), the historic practice is to show one idea (or a few ideas in a rotated monadic design) and then beat those ideas to death, asking questions like purchase intent, is the product a need vs. a want, liking, uniqueness, advantage, value for money, benefit uniqueness, incremental purchase vs. substitution, etc.

It sounds amazing. But can people really answer all of these questions in a meaningful way? Over 30 years ago, long before I worked in research, I was a research participant in a mall study where 7UP was developing a new mascot (below is the winner, named Fido Dido…this blog post is also a nostalgia trip for people of the right age).

I was shown several options and asked which one was cooler, which one was more interesting, which one I would most want to hang out with, etc. Every time I picked the same one…the one that I liked the most. I was answering their questions as best I could, but I was also answering the same question (preference) again and again. The researchers would have gotten the same answer with a simpler questionnaire: “which of these do you like most?”. When the Fido Dido that I preferred won, I was sold on research and knew that it was the industry for me. Actually, that is not true: no one dreams as a child of being a researcher, but my preferred Fido Dido did win 😊.

At Dig Insights, we have accepted the limitations of research and found that liberating. It allows for radically simple research methodologies that allow us to do studies on mobile, minimize respondent fatigue, test more ideas and deliver faster and lower cost research. We have also learned that radically simple is not…simple. It takes a lot of discipline to remain focused and to condense your thinking / the ideas you test.

Not all of our studies are radically simple. We build virtual markets and build volumetric models for innovations. But where we can be radically simple, we are. It takes a lot of modesty to recognize the limitations of the work that you do. It also takes a bit of bravery. I’m interested to see how thinking small can lead us into new places.

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