This weekend I had lunch with Stewart Owens. Stewart was the Vice Chairman and Chief Strategic Officer of Young and Rubicam. He is now a principal at mcgarrybowen.
We agreed that marketing has become more demanding at the very moment that research practitioners are, some of them, working to an ever lower standard. This means that data coming into the corporation is, some of it, compromised from the very beginning. It doesnt matter how smart the analysis post hoc. Garbage “in must mean garbage “up. (GIGU is the corporate version of GIGO.)
Stewart and I remarked that a lot of the qualitative work is accomplished by people who appear to be suffering a terrible case of amnesia. People can have spent 20 years doing focus groups but they appear to have learned almost nothing in the process. They have developed no depths of knowledge. They have listen to people talk about themselves and their culture twice an evening for thousands of evenings, and nothing stuck. Its was in one ear and out the other.
Following Ani DiFranco, we might call this the “gold fish effect. In a song called “Little Plastic Castles, DiFranco lays it out
They say goldfish have no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time.
DiFranco, Ani. 1998. Little Plastic Castles on the album of the same name. Copyright Righteous Babe Records. The Amazon.com link for this CD here
The mcgarrybowen website here