A Simple Question: Why?
- Posted by Alex Brooks
- On October 8, 2012
As any of us who has suffered through school knows, proper research is critical to properly completing a project. The more time that is put into the research the better the project turns out. In recent times, there has been a tremendous amount of research that goes on in a wide variety of industries and much of it is enlightening and helpful.
One issue that we have seen is a new phenomenon and it is the critical first step: are you asking the right question? Our country’s economic retraction has resulted in the downsizing of most companies, the result of which increases the workload on the remaining employees. Brainstorming sessions have been fundamentally thrown out the window, and that is reflected in poor questions being asked up front.
The first step to solving those issues is to spend time clarifying the goals of the research project at hand. It is no longer enough to just ask “what” or “when” or “how.” It’s critical to ask “why?”
Let’s take fishing rods for example. Most studies reflect how many rods are purchased every year. They also answer when those rods are purchased. And they answer what kinds of rods were purchased. Readers of the study will get a sense of what part of the country reflects positive sales traction. They’ll also reveal which manufacturers are outselling others. But the important question is why are these customers buying the rod in the first place? Is the rod a replacement rod? For a new angler (thereby reflecting growth in participation rates)? For a new targeting species (thereby reflecting an increasing travel pattern)? Many more questions stem from asking the “why” in a survey. And by asking those questions you’ll gain critical information about not just your market segment, but about the customers who are engaged therein.