Nov 05

Changing the Logic: Stuff

There is something compelling about tangible stuff. So many of our aspirations are defined by it. A home. A boyfriend. A girlfriend. A promotion. An iPhone. A baby. A sportscar. We want stuff. We desire stuff. It’s been a driver of technological and economic progress for a while now.


Even though mostly what we crave are the feelings that we hope that stuff is going to give us.


At an annual appraisal one year the inevitable question came up. So Catherine, where do you see yourself in five years time? This was the year that I had decided I’d had enough of telling them what they wanted to hear and instead was going to tell them what I wanted. I answered that I hoped I’d be doing a job that I found interesting and stimulating and worthwhile.


It wasn’t a popular answer. Light on stuff. Nothing to argue against. I was challenged of course and explained that I really did care abut these things more than how senior or how well paid or behind which desk. A mixture of pity and irritation crossed my boss’s face and he closed the interview.


Implications for Market Research 


The trouble with a lot of market research is that it is based on stuff. Which figures, since stuff has an advertising budget, product development department or sales team that need it to get out in the world. But in the woolly fuzzy logic of our choices, what we say and what we do can be worlds apart.


Think of even some of the pretty important decisions you have made and, being brutally honest, were there rational well thought through reasons that you considered beforehand? Of course we can all come up with them after the event, that doesn’t count. Men have risked their lives going to war and many of us have made life changing choices in an instant, with scant regard to the impact stuff-wise.


So the sooner we own up to this, and devise research methods that allow for the stuff of dreams and nonsense as well as the stuff of stuff, the more honest and valuable- albeit messy – our conclusions can start to be.



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