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Market Research – The Wilderness Years

Wednesday 17 November 2010
Words Spindle

——————————Please ensure you have a cup of tea handy before reading——————————–

There was a young man from Crewe

Who went to the shops around two

He bought only fluff

Though he wanted a ruff

And was held up for half an hour talking to someone in a green bib who thought he looked hip enough to warrant asking for my credit card details without any hint of security like a big padlock symbol that would appear over his head like you get on websites…. well legal ones anyway like Spindle, Nationwide or Greggs Online.

What is it about “Market Research” that infuriates me! I think part of it is the audacity of the researchers and the questions they ask. Here’s an example;

Us: (Bustling along with arms full and something pretty like Bonobo or Edith Piaf or Jim Croce in our ears trying to get through the crowds to the Debenhams Blue Cross sale) Oh what a lovely day for capitalism! (On seeing the bibbed youth) No sorry I’m in a hurry.

Them: S’up Dog, welcome to the hood. What you listening to?

Us: Oh…Jim Croce

Them: Smooth sounds of the San-Diego syrup lungs. If you could have time in a bottle, you would ensure you made your opinions known right?

Us: Right, I’m in a real hurry….

Them: So do you mind if I ask you a few questions. We’re doing a survey. (Notice it’s no longer a question, just a statement of fact that you have to resign yourself to)

Us: (Resigning yourself to the fact you were ensnared by their coquettish charms and silently cursing Jim Croce under your breath) Sure…. Fire away.

Them: Do you like cheese?

Us: Yes

Them: What’s your favourite kind?

Us: Erm…cheddar. No Brie!

Them: Ok, cheddar. How often do you eat cheese?

Us: Erm, everyday…no, about once a week.

Them: Ok, with every meal. Being a cheddar fan, are you offended by other cheeses?

Us: Well I don’t really like smoked cheeses like Bavarian.

Them: Ok, still shows anti-German tendencies from the War – (noting down in CAPITALS)…MAY VOTE BNP.

Us: I’m sorry what?

Them: (Smiling) So, what cheese would you have at your wedding?

Us: Ooh, something special – Goats cheese with caramelised red onion chutney.

Them: (Ticks box showing – Other) Delusions of grandeur. What cheese would you give a baby?

Us: Strange question, can you make cheese from the Mother’s milk?

Them: No, it curdles immediately. The closest you can get is like a buttery, cottage cheese goo but it’s quite nice with salmon. Choose a real cheese to give to a baby!

Us: Nothing blue, so a mild one…Ooh red Leicester.

Them: Ok, the one with all the additives. Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Us: What’s that got to do with cheese.

Them: Just answer the question, do you agree with God or Science!?

Us: I don’t understand, what’s this research for?

Them: It’s generic profiling. I’ve already found out, you’re a closet racist middle class snob with bad parenting skills and an Oedipus complex! Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Us: How do you know all that?

Them: Cheddar – Goats cheese – Red Leicester –  Bavarian – it’s pretty obvious. Now one more question. Do you eat BabyBels or Cheese Strings?

Us: BabyBel

Them: Ok, so your pro-choice then. All wrapped up, thanks for your time.

Us: What…I’m not…I’m not…I’m not MIDDLE CLASS!

———————– PAUSE HERE FOR A QUICK SIP OF YOUR TEA (Careful may still be hot!!!)—————————

Now that, as you can tell, is my idea of what would infuriate me when confronted with these bibbed vigilantes of “truth”. I’ve read these articles where they use the research and it’s such a warped view of the answers they were given. It’s like a science experiment where the variables are infinite but they break it down into just two variables for the sake of the experiment and then wonder why every week we have conflicting stories on health, climate and the human mind splattered all over the tabloids.

I digress but fuck sod you, I’m allowed, I’m fed up with the culture of face value.

There are infinite meanings to a question and an answer, and to break those down is to dilute part of what makes us human. I mean look at cabbage: I bet it gets a bad rap in these market research things but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I love cabbage myself but if you asked someone if they like cabbage they may say ‘NO’, but this doesn’t mean this reaction can be taken into account in a story about the cause of depression. It’s the same issue with these polls on Nuclear Disarmament. People never say they want Nuclear Warheads but they’re asked whether they ‘feel safer’ knowing we have them, or whether they are a good deterrent. These same polls then get used to justify our current Trident project or the insane idea of “Mutually Assured Destruction” which would mean us actually retaliating to a global war by firing a shed load of these things at each other! It’s not news and it’s not a reflection on society. Just because there are 50 people who loved Herbal Essences doesn’t mean it’s going to work for me or Bob Hope! If 100 people were interviewed in a poll and 80 of them said they agreed with the war in Iraq can we say that 80% of people agreed? The papers seem to have adopted this idea and I’m worried about it. So I’m gonna try it.

I’ve taken 20 of my friends, family and asked them to fill out a questionnaire about me. It should show what my true colours are and help me become a part of ‘believable’ society. I asked my subjects, “Do you think Meerkuts is a good person?” – only 6 people said yes. 12 said no and 2 said ‘In the same way Bernard Manning was a good comedian’. From this we know that a majority of people thought I was alright. So you can leave this article in the knowledge that I’m fine. But I might not be. I might be a peeping tom. I might push kittens in bins! I might have more than one Spice Girls album! YOU don’t know. Harold Shipman’s neighbours thought he was a decent chap. What I’m trying to say is don’t go worrying yourself. Knowledge is an amazing thing but life is more important.

Information is King. In our society we thrive on news, we get sustenance from daily updates, we suck at the teat of knowledge. This is all part of evolution and I’m a big fan of knowledge otherwise my current position writing this article is insanely hypocritical. However we need to stop using misleading or misinterpret-able information from the media to govern our lives. The only way we can do this is by taking stock of our situations. If you drink 2 glasses of wine a night and every morning you have a headache or pee blood it might be worth cutting it out for a while and seeing if it’s the wine that’s affecting you. However you don’t then have to go on Daybreak and tell a massive sob-story about your shortened lifespan and how your spouse left you in a “selfless” plea to get the government to ban alcohol! It’s not “selfless”. It’s even more selfish than Neutral Milk Hotel ceasing to release music anymore or Heath Ledger dying before they could make Batman – The Killing Joke into a film! We don’t all need to stop drinking and if we do some of us might not want to.

In conclusion, I apologise to Market Researchers. I don’t hate Market Researchers, one of my closest friends is a Market Researcher (Hi Charlie!). I know that sounds like the type of thing a racist would say but it’s true. I’m not anti-feminist either, my girlfriend is a girl. Seriously though, I understand the need for market research in the right context, companies need to have an idea of their consumers and the important details surrounding their product. People who work in marketing need Market Research to do their job. Busybodies, bigots and all other people like Mary Whitehouse need Market Research because it validates their cause with what appears to be truth. The media doesn’t need Market Research, it should be able to present facts or discuss points of view without trying to bend our minds or the minds of those in power to change the way we live. Mothers don’t need Market Research to tell them not to feed their children shed loads of fast food. We’re an evolved society and I think we can all make our own decisions based on facts, friends, family and good old fashioned trial and error. So I’ll end this by saying;

We don’t need Market Research, it needs us! Now stop drinking, stop gambling and stop having sex cause in 80% of the cases I asked…. it chafes your genitals. BURNED.

Words and image by Meerkuts