Market research pratfalls

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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.

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