Somehow, earlier this week I managed to get myself involved in undertaking an MR survey online. it brought back a few memories because, a good many years ago, I signed up as a market researcher. it seemed a relatively harmless and even simple way of earning some extra money at a time when my self-employed status was actually costing me money instead of bringing it in.
Surveys were conducted, mainly, in one of two ways; either one stood on the street to ask passers-by to spare a few minutes or one knocked at doors to find interviewees. Apart from the fact that most people declined to waste their time, the main challenge was to find the right people to interview. One was always given a brief stating how many people were to be interviewed and the demographic make-up of the number, broken down into age groups, gender and socioeconomic bands. And once one had found a suitable candidate who was willing to answer the questions, people in certain occupations had to be excluded. it might have been a harmless way to earn money, but it certainly wasn't as simple as I had expected.
Then one had to ignore (as best one could) the apparent inanity of the questions. take an example from the survey i have just completed. I was asked to indicate which coffee brands represented value for money. Since I had never bought more than three-quarters of the brands and hadn't the vaguest notion of the different prices, I was quite unable to express a definite opinion - but there was no 'don't know' option and i couldn't go on the the next question until I had marked each brand! I am sure that most people will have been in the same situation over one or more of the questions - which, I suggest, makes a mockery of the results,
But that's market research!
A much more interesting way of conducting research was as a mystery shopper. I only managed to get two of these assignments. One was to make appointments to view retirement properties for a fictitious relative and report how my enquiries were handled. For the second assignment, I was employed to visit a number of pubs, at each of which I had to buy a pint of lager. the brewers had recently installed a device on the pumps which the bar staff were supposed to use once the pint had been poured, and I was to check that this was being done. Now that's a much better way of conducting research!