The Everyday Researcher – Part 1

7th April, 2011

Market research practice may be explained in 4 simple stages:

1.    Identify and define the ‘problem’ (Hypothesise);

2.    Collect relevant evidence (fieldwork);

3.    Examine and evaluate the evidence (analysis);

4.    Apply the findings (decision making.)

Now as someone working in market research I’m aware there’s considerably more involved but in essence these 4 stages demonstrate the basic shape of a research project. Indeed we all tend to follow this basic pattern in many, if not all, aspects of our everyday lives and in this sense we are all ‘everyday researchers’. I’m no exception to this as I’ll demonstrate using a dilemma I’m currently wrestling with. Let me explain, I’m tempted by the thought of owning an e-reader and I’m torn between the Sony PRS650 and the much advertised Amazon Kindle.

Now I know I don’t need an e-reader, after all I can buy ‘real’ books and there’s already loads of e-reader software for my PC. But, and there’s always a but, being a ‘typical’ bloke I tend to get these burning urges to possess new technology; an urge that will in due course cause me to part with my hard earned cash.

As a market researcher I know the importance of using evidence to guide my decision making. Similarly I know maintaining impartiality is important so as not to be influenced by personal likes and dislikes. However, like many people I have my favourite brands. In my case this tends to be Honda and Sony so I went for the Sony PS3 console and when I replaced my car I went for a Honda. I’m not saying Honda and Sony necessarily produce superior products to other manufacturers but there’s just something about their products that appeals to me and it’s my preference for Sony that is at the root of my dilemma about which e-reader to buy.

On the face of it the decision should be fairly straightforward and I should just buy the Sony but despite my personal preference for Sony products I have to admit they don’t come cheap. For example, the Sony PRS650 comes with a rather hefty £200+ price tag. By any standards that’s a lot of ‘real’ books and to be honest I’m not sure it represents good value for money, especially when the Kindle does essentially the same thing for £111 and you can now get a decent tablet PC for around £200.

Therefore I’ve decided to embark on a programme of research to examine the alternatives. Watch this space!