Don’t Hesitate … Triangulate

So, you ask someone … “what do you like, ice cream or cookies?” and you get your answer, right?  But wait, not so fast!  Consider this:  they may say “ice cream” but that might be because it’s a beautiful sunny day and the ice cream truck has just passed.   Yet, quite honestly, they much prefer a chocolate sandwich cookie (dipped in milk, of course) after their evening meal.  That being the case, you can’t always take people at their word, can you?  Not that
they intentionally try to mislead but often immediate circumstances have more to do with their answer than the question itself.
Here’s proof I think that this is the case:  In a worldwide study posing
the question on brand respect, it was stated that Wal*Mart was top of the
heap–the most respected worldwide brand, this, according to a report by Brand Finance, a UK-based brand valuation consultant.   Of course I’m not faulting the research whatsoever since Wal*Mart is certainly one of the top used brands, but that is not the point.  The question was, “which is the most RESPECTED brand?” Further, I pose this question … does brand recognition, or use, translate into brand respect?  Frankly, I can’t answer that without asking more questions, can you?  My gut is telling me that it does not but I’d hate to stake my reputation, and a potentially huge campaign (with significant monetary output), on my gut.  We need to dig deeper. 

In this instance, the need is to go beyond the numbers. Sure, it’s great to
get a quick gut-check on brands offering one view or response to the question,
but now let’s go beyond the numbers.  Why did the respondents choose what
they did?  What, specifically, do they respect in a brand?  Is there anything about the brand they feel could be changed in order to increase its level of respect, not just its use?  The broad-brush approach is certainly a valid approach but it’s just that — broad, so let’s take it to the next level
and listen to the consumers. 

Knowing the what and whys of a situation takes you from the 30,000 foot view
of the intimate and provides you insight far deeper and much more robust than
simple numbers on a page could ever do.  Next time you’re met with a number
don’t hesitate to ask ‘why’ and if there is no answer don’t hesitate to
triangulate.  Triangu-what?   Here, let me explain …
‘Triangulation is a powerful technique that facilitates validation of data
through cross verification from more than two sources. In particular, it
refers to the application and combination of several research methodologies
in the study of the same phenomenon’. [Wikipedia]  Ahh!  You see, there are many ways to achieve this by bringing in a researcher who is well-versed in more than any one methodology, open to approaches which often need a little
wiggle room, and consequently will afford you the opportunity to not only obtain the numbers but uncover the whys.

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