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Travails in France and Market Research 101 – @bbcapprentice

homepage_tx8_1I was surprised and caught up in the success of the the Apprentices this week. I honestly thought (being a man with no sense of style) that they’d struggle to sell ANY lamps, and in honesty – those universal grips – always offend me as pieces of pointless, expensive wire and plastic. But they did a pretty good job, all in, and both teams managed to make some reasonable sales – although I do note that La Redoute doesn’t currently stock a transforming car seat – in the UK, anyway – so I’m doubtful as to the honesty of the process.

The losing team suffered on all sorts of counts, but I have two key lessons for Melody, in particular:

  1. If you’re doing market research, you have to be aware of something called ‘sample bias.’ It’s reasonably unsurprising that in the course of interviewing Metro commuters you get the impression that people in Paris don’t like to drive. Just looking around – as she eventually did – revealed the scope of the traffic situation in Paris and answered that question.
  2. If you are biased, you can ask questions to get the answers you want. I suspect Melody knows this one already, but to take a lesson from an even more epic BBC programme, Yes Prime Minister (quotes from here):

"Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?" 
"Yes" 
"Do you think there is lack of discipline and vigorous training in our Comprehensive Schools?" 
"Yes" 
"Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in their lives?" 
"Yes" 
"Do they respond to a challenge?" 
"Yes" 
"Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?" 
"Yes"

Now onto Survey 2

"Mr. Woolley are you worried about the danger of war?" 
"Yes" 
"Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?" 
"Yes" 
"Do you think there’s a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?" 
"Yes" 
"Do you think its wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?" 
"Yes" 
"Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?" 

"Yes"

Stuart Baggs on the BBC Blog has a fantastic perspective on Melody’s delivery of the primary market research too:

Her linguistic skills are applaudable, although I’m 97% certain her "selective translation" skills may cause a global war at the UN one day. She should seek treatment for what I call Internal Chinese Whispers, whereby a statement in French such as "Yes I think its a good idea" becomes "She said it’s OK".

A final note: Susan, seriously. "Do French people love their families…?" – that is a whole new level of idiocy that even I didn’t expect to see demonstrated. Just goes to show – given her sales impact – you really don’t need to be clever to get ahead in business.

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