Do you think market research is evil?

In this thread, Bosda mentioned that he actively avoids participating in market research. I didn’t want to hijack the other thread, but I’m curious. I know several people who feel the same way, and frankly, I just don’t get it.

As I said in the other thread, it seems like a win-win situation to me. When I give my opinion on a product or service or tv show or whatever, it becomes that much more likely that future products, services, and tv shows will be things that I like. Sure the Big Evil Corporations benefit from it too in that by knowing what people like, they’ll make more money by providing it, but what is the harm in that?

Do many people think this way? What is the rationale?

When market research results in things I like, it’s great. When it results in things I like getting discontinued, it’s eeevil.

I think the idea might be that since commercial corporate wickedness is getting well out of control in some circumstances, anything that further adds to the power corporations already have over their target groups’ minds and wallets can only be a bad thing. I have a small daughter and I was astonished to see how quickly she learned what McDonalds was. It was one of her first words. We only took her twice and she was clamouring to go back for weeks. The whole place is designed on a psychological level, etc, to hook and keep the loyalties of adults and children alike. That alone strikes many people as just a little creepy. We don’t go any more, and that was before we knew about the problem with Happy Meal toys.

Plus, you don’t know the ethical policies of the companies you’re helping out with market research. I mean, you might, which is good, but most people do not. Providing the companies with market research further strengthens them. If they have an evil side, that grows too.

Lots of corporations throttle smaller businesses and suchlike. Some people just hate corporations. Some people are right.

I think it’s that sort of thing. But I certainly don’t know enough about it to pick a side yet.

The methods used to do market research are evil!

Basically, take the worst aspects of telemarketing and use them under the shield of “market research.” For example, calling a home repeatedly until the specific person you are asking for specifically states for you to stop calling; not being allowed to tell the respondent the length of the survey- especially with some surveys that last for an hour or more; and asking the same question over and over again with only slight variations, even when the respondent thinks the question is stupid or irrelevant.

They use misleading fictitious names like “the Information Sciences Institute” to sound like an academic study when the sponsor is corporate. The firms doing market research are measured by quotas and time limits in order to set their prices, and there is a larger margin of “error” than they would like their clients to think.

Don’t even get me started on the office politics in such a firm.

Those are my reasons, YMMV. If I made a guess, it would be that people just do not like to be disturbed at home by strangers for any reason.

I don’t like it because I don’t like being disturbed, and the more I participate in it the more I’m disturbed. (I think companies must have a “sucker” list they share with each other.) I don’t mind junk mail – that’s easy enough to get rid of – but I hate being called. Whenever possible I leave the “phone number” section of forms blank, or put in an obviously fake one (555) if I’m online and it’s a required field.

The last time I was contacted by phone do to a survey, I thought I’d be nice because it was about tourism in my local city. I had requested a brochure with all the local attractions to be sent to me so that I could have ideas of what do with visiting relatives, and some months later got a phone call about it. But it quickly became ridiculous, as hardly any of the questions applied to me (like what hotels I stay in, how often I visit, reason for visiting – I’ve lived here most of my life!). It was endlessly long and the person on the other end was persistent (albeit nice) in asking all the questions, no matter how irrelevant. Needless to say it was a sharp reminder why I don’t like participating in these things in the first place. To me, they are nuisance time-wasters.

For a while, I participated in marketing research about upcoming movies. That ended when a call lasted twenty minutes with no sign of stopping. I asked how close we were to finishing and Joyce (the woman on the other end of the phone) said it depended on my answers. I said I had to go.

She called back a couple of times and was never able to tell me how long any survey would take, and so I always declined. After two or three times I told her not to bother, because I was never going to have time to participate again.

Since then, I’ve participated in two or so marketing research calls, and they get 5 minutes. If they’re not done at that point, I am.

That said, I don’t think market research is evil, but I think it’s poorly run and guaranteed to get lousy results, so I really don’t see what the point is.

I don’t think its evil per se, just not very effective at bringing me the things I want. For instance, I used to be a regular poll-taker for Modern Rock, but all of the songs were absolutely horrible, and they basically used the poll to determine WHAT POPULAR SONGS TO PLAY, not to determine what new songs to play. Since the single most important thing for me in radio is being exposed to new music, the polls do less than nothing for my listening.

Even worse, I now no longer listen to broadcast radio, so when the pollsters call me, they don’t let me take their poll, since I don’t listen to radio…well I would if they played anything decent! (Actually, I wouldnt…by current car doesnt have a radio!)

But market research per se is not evil. Market research in the music industry is actually borderline evil to me, but it’s due to the way the research industry is in bed with the program directors and the way they take the lazy way out, making musical programming choices that tend to stifle new music.

I do not like market research. Why? Because I give them two things that are valuable to me, my time and my personal information. In return I am likely to get more unsolicited calls or mail, and the very slim chance that my views were enough in that majority to affect product design in a way that is favorable to me.

I would eagerly participate in market research if they gave me something tangible in return. My time and info are valuable, but heck, they are not priceless.

I know market research is evil because I work for market research.

There is so much I’d love to get off my chest about this despicable job, unfortunatley I signed a confidentiality agreement.

But for the most part, if you think participating in a survey is annoying, imagine the hell it is to be the one who has to administer it, especially when there are quotas to meet, and corporate higher ups threaten discipline if you don’t.

It’s true that many market research surveys are long, arduous, and repetitive. If they weren’t everyone’s lives, especially the employees of such firms would be so much better, but for some reason which I cannot understand, they find this to be necessary.

I’ve been trying to find a new job for five months now. :frowning:

One example of this is supermarket loyalty cards. I resisted at first, but the price differences between using one and not were too much to ignore. There may be a local supermarket that doesn’t require one to get the specials, but it wouldn’t be one of my top 4 choices, and by that time, I’d have foregone most of what I look for in a supermarket.

I don’t usually participate unless it’s a product I have strong feelings about, on the off chance I could have some influence. My local supermarket had a web survey right around the time I had gotten spoiled meat a couple of times. I’m not sure whether it was my survey response, my taking advantage of their double-money-back on a large roast, or random events, but the problem hasn’t reoccurred. For me, not participating is more of a value of my time thing than a business is evil thing.

I despise telephone market research as it is done today. It’s a parasitic business that depends on volunteer labor to produce valuable products. Sure, a survey might only take up half an hour of my time. But in a market research outfit, employees are calling members of the public all day long, every business day. How many hours of unpaid public labor does that add up to in a year? Market research firms then turn around and sell this product, the data, to whoever commissioned it. They pay their own employees (poorly) for making the calls, but the other half of every phone conversation is pure profit.

Edited to add: **Chatnoir **and others working in the biz, I know this isn’t your fault. I had several friends who did this work to help pay their way through university. They couldn’t stand it either.

I never participate in telephone research. Unless I recognize the caller ID number, the call goes to voicemail.

I used to participate in a mail-in market research program. I got a “cold-call” fill-in survey once and filled out it. The reward was a coupon booklet (maybe about a quarter of them useful to me, but they were substantial, like buy one, get one free). They sent follow-up surveys about every six months. I never gave information I didn’t want to give (like income, race and gender, but age and education I would). I’d answer questions about which brands and amounts of different household goods I’d bought in the last year. It’d take me about ten minutes to complete.

I use the grocery store reward cards, but anonymously. That is, I use the cards, but never returned the info forms. So I’m simply a number in their database.

Is this that same as product testing?

I did a soda taste test thing for a marketing company. I learned that I actually don’t like Coke Zero. I scored it the lowest out of all the sodas in the blind taste test… Orange scored hire and I HATE orange.

I’ve done it occasionally. I view it as a way to get what I want. Questions are often poorly written and the people doing the polling can’t tell you what the intent of the question is, so you have to guess and move on. Don’t complain when the research is all done on lonely old people with dementia if you never take polls, because they do.

I’ve done 2 market research studies where I went downtown and chatted for an hour and a half about something. I got paid $150 for each one. One was for cars and the other was for gum. I don’t think I was too useful for the car one, they were looking for people in the Ford Fusion market, I own a Ford Focus (lower class) but the screener got me in anyhow. It was obvious I wasn’t who they were looking for, it was a lot of women who owned Accords and talking about wanting a car good enough for clients and the valet. Someone even suggested Oprah as a celebrity endorsement. But the gum one was tons of fun.

Anyhow, I was a big fan of market research on those days. I told them to please keep me on their list.

I usually give fake names and addresses for them. It’s not like the customer service counter people check.

I imagine the person living at 666 Scary St. in Scaryville, OH has received a whole bunch of junk mail addressed to Travis Bickle.

The only telephone surveys I will take are political voter polls. One auto-poller called me twice in 10 minutes last year - the second time through was very quick because I didn’t have to listen to the full questions.

I don’t receive a lot of phone solicitations because I consistently say, remove me from your list, and they are required to do so by law. Do this for a couple of years and you will see the number of phone pitches drop dramatically. I used to just say, I don’t want anything by phone, and that did nothing to reduce calls.

I do take a lot of online surveys at work. These are quick and there are often prizes to be won. In the past five years I have won a $500 gift card, a $250 gift card and an iPod by taking these surveys.

My own company also surveys employees regularly to determine the effectiveness of different services, benefits, programs, etc. We changed healthcare insurers because of bad feedback (yay!). This may not qualify in your mind as market research, but it does in mind.

So no, there’s nothing inherently bad about market research, but phone solicitors disguised as market researchers (the movie-trailer gambit is one of these) are devil-spawned.

so you’re the one !!!

I’ll bite, what’s the problem with Happy Meal toys?

I don’t mind market research as long as it’s compensated. I do some online surveys (with reputable organizations). All totaled I’ve made a few hundred bucks. Was it worth the time? Not really, but I largely did them at work during downtime anyway, so meh. I also once got pulled in by one of those places in the mall (since closed) and did a few studies. Made a few bucks and got a free take ‘n’ bake lasagna out of it.

I never participate in studies for drawing entries or otherwise uncompensated, or of course if they’re trying to sell you something.

Is it evil? Nah. Companies want to find out how to sell to you and what people like. I’ve taken market research studies for colossally bad food products and I’m sure they saved money by having people say “eww, gross”. I also had one really satisfying experience ripping a company to shreds. They asked about DRM after a big, famous incident and the questions were along the lines of “we hope you’ll tell us you don’t know or care what DRM is”. I filled it all out, hoping that there would be an open-ended question. There was, and I wrote a long, detailed, reasoned but angry screed about how I was directly affected, precisely in their target market, and a frequent customer, and how I will never purchase from that company again. I’d like to hope that some choice quotes from that missive made it onto a Powerpoint presentation for the execs. :slight_smile: