Research – It’s all about the evidence

It seems such a shame, but so often nowadays we have little opportunity to really get into the detail of things. We’re all in such a rush to ‘do things’ that we never seem to stop to look before we leap. This thought struck me the other day when I had the chance to have a long and deep discussion with a client about a potential new study. We had a very useful conversation that explored different research approaches in order to help finalise the brief. After going round the houses and coming back to where we began we seemed to have reached a good conclusion. So far, so good. Then, as ever, in trying to be helpful, I found myself blurting out the following words:

“Of course, we know why they are non-users…”

before very quickly stopping myself short.

You see I was about to share my views on a subject I had been involved in for more than a decade. It was something I felt quite well qualified to talk about, but I suddenly realised that I’d be giving away my knowledge completely for free. Not a smart commercial move.

But it was only afterwards when I thought about it a little more that I realised that it didn’t actually matter. No, it really is of no concern if I share what I know and for free. And the reason why not is actually very simple.


A lot of research involves doing the same thing over and over again. In time you find out that there are only a small number of possible outcomes. For instance:

I recall running a large project for a client running multiple sites. The project required us to repeat the same research in each location. After a time it became clear that we could make a pretty accurate guesstimate of what the research would say based on the previous findings. And yet no one suggested we stop the programme.

In short what we crave is not just the answer, but we also need the evidence. And sometimes the answer is actually less important than the evidence.

So the next time I find myself blurting out an answer to a marketing problem based on my research experience I’ll not stop myself, because I can be reasonably certain that even with the answer known there will still be a desire to carry on with the research simply because someone, somewhere will want to have the evidence too.


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