“But where are the projective techniques in the guide”, said the King (Customer is King. For us, clients are customers) for the 4th time. I had just explained to him for 10 minutes why direct questioning works best in case the respondent is an expert and is being interviewed as an expert. Now the dilemma for me was should I be true to my art and insist on what I consider best for the client’s business or give in to his demand and keep the King happy.
Ofcourse like a committed client servicing person, I went with the latter.
Few weeks down the line, we were presenting to the King and his boss, the Lord. Now having discussed technicalities of the business and all the technical stuff with more difficult sounding words than we ever use in our life, came the slides on projective techniques. “your brand is considered to be a cat, implying that it is fast. It is also considered a tiger, that is fatal for enemies, doesn’t leave the prey”. “Now let me tell you about brand personification of this brand of chemicals … It is Male, about 35 year old … is likely to be a scholar and a researcher ….” The Lord couldn’t digest this disconnect in the flow of presentation. He looked quizzically at me, the hapless presenter, who was not sure of the need of what she was saying. King came to my rescue, “We just needed this to understand the brand better. We will use it incase we go for any communication. You can move ahead as of now. This is not so critical”. Great. But why were projective techniques required in the first place, Mr. King !
I am sure lots and lots of market researchers face this situation. While we put the blame for this on the clients’ commitment to jargonism. But the significant blame lies on the half baked knowledge of researchers and more on blatant commercialism in research under which people sell jargon because it sells. (I agree that I also fall prey to this when I get a client who will buy only jargon and not solutions.)
Through this humble attempt, I want to bring to the notice of doers and users of research to reflect upon the need of projective techniques before you ask for it / sell it. It is to be used carefully, only in circumstances where direct questioning is not likely to get you a real understanding of what the respondent believes. It is required and is effective in circumstances when you need to delve into the sub-conscious layers of the respondent. There is no need to use projective techniques when the respondent is lives and breathes the category and has a clear answer for all your questions.
So King, the customer, your ‘will’ be done. But why bother to project, when you could ask !
Written by : Shubhra Misra