A Tale of Three Researchers
What’s the difference between a good researcher and a great one?
By Paul Smith
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s a director of consumer research at Procter & Gamble, and a 19-year veteran of the company, I’m often asked what makes the difference between a good consumer researcher and a great one. Usually the question comes from young researchers who want to progress rapidly in the company. Sometimes it comes from a manager who wants to provide good coaching. Either way, my answer is the same.
And it has very little to do with their skills as researchers. After trying for years to explain my point of view, I concluded the most effective way to answer this question was through the following story.
Once there was a market research manager who had three bright, young researchers working for her, but was only able to promote one of them. To determine who it would be, she gave each of them this challenge: “The one who best helps the next brand manager who comes through our door will win the promotion.”
Soon an eager brand manager came to the research department with this request: “I have several new ideas for my brand and need you to place a concept test to pick the best one.” The research manager explained the competition and asked that the brand manager meet with each of her
researchers separately. At the end of the week, the research manager called all three researchers in to present their recommended plans.
And They’re Off
The first researcher had designed the perfect monadic concept test. Her survey design included a separate test leg for each of the brand manager’s new ideas, plus one for the current concept to compare against. The test called for just the right number of respondents in each leg to be statistically reliable. The age, education, income and ethnicity of the
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