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My point on toilet paper was in response to Helen's "only important question is: would you refer us to someone else?" NPS is only meaningful in industries where people ask others for advice (eg. not toilet paper) and that advice is easy to obtain (how many of your friends can realistically give you advices on sport cars? Or take time to suggest a pension plan that is right for you? Do you trust strangers for that?), unbiased and trustable. Many, but not all.
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I don't necessarily agree with this. There are plenty of industries where word of mouth is not a significant driver: I'm very loyal to a toilet paper brand to the point of changing supermarket if it's out of stock, but to the point of talking about it with other people. And the same applies to tons of other things... There's too much emphasis on co-creations and collaboration, and we need to be aware that even the most loyal of our consumers sometimes have better things to do in life than collaborate with us. (And that's even leaving aside any consideration on how retrograde and mediocre can co-creation committees be...) We have to go back to the basics: look at what works in a certain industry, and find out the specific right way to investigate that. No shortcuts.
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You're right about all the alternative research methodologies (esp. ethnographic), but there's also value in traditional focus groups, IF you know how to use them. Asking people questions doesn't mean that you should take their answers for truth: it means that the process itself discloses insight, not quite in what people say, but in what they don't say, in the silences, in the reactions on their face... As a rule of thumb, disregard what they first say and focus on everything else. Find some insightful omissions or facial expressions, and probe on those. The same thing applies to quant: look into standard deviation, statistical distribution, go deeper than just the first figures that are thrown at you. Obviously this has one big implication: you have to be clever. Good researchers make research good. Bad researchers make research bad. (More details in here: and here: if you bother about the details)
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Oct 20, 2010