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Comfort Food in Market Research?

November 4, 2021

The Consistencies of Market Research Over the Years

It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned researcher, just getting started in your career or taking your first class on the subject — things are constantly evolving in market research. Methodologies change, target audiences evolve, advanced analytics improve (can you say Linear Regression, Logistic Regression and Chi Square Residuals?) and the list goes on and on. Sometimes, you run across things that have not changed. When I encounter something in my project management work that has not changed over time, I consider it “comfort food” and I smile just a bit. It’s comfort food in the sense that it’s consistent, reliable, and familiar to the work I’ve always known in Market Research. You may be wondering, “What are some of these ‘comfort foods’?”

Purchase Intent

The purchase intent question within market research is a question that I have seen asked in many ways with various formats. In my opinion, sometimes the old standby is just what you need:

  • Definitely would
  • Probably would
  • Might or might not
  • Probably would not
  • Definitely would not

While the format is not flashy or new, it gets you what you need to know with no fuss. Just like mashed potatoes, nothing flashy or new, but a reliable and fan favorite side dish that you know will go over well. You know, comfort food…

“Don’t Know” May Not Mean Don’t Know

When I have the opportunity to monitor telephone interviews for my projects, I am struck again with more comfort food. Since it’s November, and in the spirit of the holiday season, we can call this pumpkin pie! Even though interviewers are using the latest technology, when a respondent says “I don’t know” as their answer to a question, there might be something sweet that awaits. Depending on the project, the respondent may be told by the interviewer “we are only looking for your opinions, there are no right or wrong answers” or a similar phrase. I can still recite my “don’t know” probe verbatim that I used as a telephone interviewer…all those decades ago. Many times, when you follow up to an “I don’t know” answer with a phrase like that, the respondent will have more of an opinion to share than they let on. Taking the time to go a step further in your market research and truly try to give each respondent a platform to express their voice will help to generate more robust, informative research for your projects.

Change Is Good

As you know, change is good! Gone are the days of phone books for sample, manual dial telephones, and typewriters and correction tape for reports. The advances I have seen in my career over the last few decades have been astounding! Just how many decades is a secret. In Market Research today, it is good to embrace the new, but we are wise enough to know that there are some things that they got right many years ago.

No matter how many new advances are created in Market Research, there are still some consistencies that have prevailed through all the years of this ever-changing field of business. These constants over time are reliable and sure to give you the results you’re looking for. They are dependable, kind of like making mashed potatoes for your Thanksgiving side dish, and pumpkin pie for your dessert.

Speaking of mashed potatoes, how do you rate yours?

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor


Written by Barb Morand, Senior Project Manager at Big Village Insights.