laptop surveyIronic that just as psychology and neuroscience firm up on how our answers to questions may in many aspects NOT reflect our actual motivations, the march of D.I.Y. surveys continues unimpeded.

Google Consumer Surveys and Survey Monkey are ever popular and now at price points set to attract all-comers. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, very democratic, and pleased to see people wanting to do research. However, what are the outputs of all these surveys going to be worth? One thing is for sure, the ‘findings’ will look fairly pretty, and people are suckers for a credible looking chart regardless of the value of the underlying information.

But how many misguided decisions will be made based on wonky questions? How many wrong-headed views will be reinforced by leading and self-serving questions? “‘Twas ever thus” the experienced reader might reply. Well, yes, but now we are going to have MUCH more of this rubbish and market research may will have to set up permanent home in the dog house, as the consequences of other peoples crap questions taint the profession as a whole. On the other hand, neuroscience, behavioural economics at al are giving professional researchers the opportunity to develop and sell interesting new methodologies that address these basic shortcomings, and break new ground in terms of interpreting our behaviours and choices.These two market research realities could not be further apart and are pulling in opposite directions.

So I am expecting a highly polarised future where “surveys” effectively means DIY/cheap, quick & dirty, and (if we are lucky) “market research”(or some similar term) means bespoke, higher-end, professional services that will be financially out of reach for most businesses. That might be fine and perfectly natural – I just hope that the market research part remains significant enough to support progressive market research thinking. I don’t want to be Googled out of existence!