Thursday, November 20, 2008

For this, I got a $25 Visa card and a free liter of bottled water

Here's what the graduate marketing students should have learned from our market research interview this evening:

1. Even if everything you're asking is an open-ended, free-association-type question, you may not want to hear everything your interview subject is willing to talk about. Every once in a while you'll interview someone who likes to talk, thrives on free association, and has never ever ever learned to shut up, even if it's in her best interest to do so*. Move things along at an appropriate pace or your professor will come in to remind you that your class is about to resume.

2. Be very, very careful about the assumptions you make when you recruit people for market research interviews. Don't assume, for example, when you're doing research for a shoe company and you say you're looking for people who enjoy being around the water, that the people who show up will all be preppy northeastern sailing types. You might just end up with a displaced Southern California girl who thinks that the only appropriate footwear around water is flip-flops, Tevas or aqua socks. (And roller blades, but that's too Southern California to explain to someone who doesn't pronounce his Rs.) I've been on a sailboat maybe three times in my life, but the poor guy interviewing me jumped all over that: "Tell me about sailing. What would you wear on your feet?" Um...sunscreen?

Turns out their market research was for Sperry Topsiders. Sorry, guys. If I'm going to be around water, I want to be IN the water, not standing on a yacht sipping upscale microbrews and chatting about the Harvard-Yale game.

I can just picture what happened when these two unfortunate souls walked back into their class: "So, tell me about the person you talked to." "Well, she's a crazy mom who likes to swim with sea turtles and wear red patent-leather heels — not at the same time — and she forces her kids to go to the beach even though they sunburn easily and are terrified of waves. Oh, and she used to be a Mormon missionary. We got nothin'."

Unless, of course, they're trying to re-brand which case I expect to see a pair of candy-apple red high-heeled aqua socks at Nordstrom next spring. Or at least Sperry ads featuring models taking off their preppy shoes and actually getting in the water**.

* I did have some composure. I never once mentioned the skinny-dipping incident. That should count for something, right?

** Actually, my real prediction is this: If anyone ever does look at their research, there will be a major Sperry ad next year featuring a pair of gorgeous bare feet with a sandal-line suntan, bright red toenails, and sand between the toes. No shoes — the shoes will be implied.


Margo said...

Too funny! I too believe only in flip-flops around water :)

Danika said...

Skinny dipping incident? I HAVE to hear this one!!!