No shit Sherlock

I know that title is not optimised for SEO, but there really can be no other; trust me...

Example #1 (Those who shall remain nameless)

This is a summary of the findings of a major research project (that shall remain nameless) that cost (in all probability) well north of $100K. Read first, and see what you get out of it.

  • Technology has empowered the customer and given him/her another channel to shop
  • Consumers are now empowered
  • It all comes back to the in-store experience
  • Understanding the customer allows you to build trust and sell more to them
  • Gen Y is different to the Boomers
  • Big Data means we have lots of information at our disposal
  • Shopping centres have the opportunity to practice place making
  • In densely populated areas retailers can have higher trading stores
  • We must combine the best of the digital and analogue world
  • You need a mobile-responsive website for mobile world
  • We must provide world-class customer experience
  • Great customer service has always worked and will always work and must be retained
  • To remain competitive we must compete with the international competitors
  • It is important to understand customers because you can’t only compete on price
  • Australia is becoming more urbanised
  • Retail is the third space for consumers where they seek a compelling experience
  • Domestic retailers in US/Europe are looking at expanding to Aus because they are seeking expansion in emerging markets
  • The customer is king

[Disclaimer: This is paraphrased from the ‘Executive Summary’. I did not download the full report; for obvious reasons.]

This is what passes for research? Wow. I suppose we get fed the stuff that we deserve. I am certain the research leader was Captain Obvious. It turns out that this research is made available publicly as an exercise in ‘content marketing’. If there was any real value in the research and the insights were actionable, the organisation would have kept that IP confidential.

Example #2 (If it looks like research, it is research…right?)

The current buzzword du jour is ‘neuromarketing’. It is a discipline I claim some expertise in. Our retail sales training program was created some 7 years ago based on those principles, and I have formal qualifications in Consumer Behaviour and have been working in the field for over 20 years. Even so, I would not classify myself as an expert– but merely that I am an avid student of neuroscience.

Yet, the internet is awash with people who claim expertise, often based on one reading of Cialdini’s book – or more likely, based on following a few bloggers who have all read Ciadini’s book. Not to get into a slanging match with the newly converted about this, but suffice to say that 90% of those so-called ‘research projects’ were conducted by US professors who are driven to achieve tenure at university by being a mass publisher of ‘scholarly’ articles, and the research is conducted on (that very representative sample of the world population) of 20-25 year old America College kids.

Example #3 (Student or Master?)

The conclusions that I draw from this is that:

  1. Real experts cannot be relied upon to provide real insights, reliably.
  2. Many people profess to be exerts when they are not even remotely qualified.
  3. You deserve whatever consequences, when you suspend your critical thinking in favour of following a flavour of the month.

The advice I can offer (ironically but sincerely):

  • Treat all unsolicited advice and all unsubstantiated content as opinion that holds no more value than your own thoughts. (I write either to explain a useful skill or a piece of knowledge, or to provoke thought. This post is in the latter category.)
  • Almost every piece of ‘content’ that is freely given out on the internet has an unseen agenda – there really isn’t anything that is free. (I write here so that you can know of me, and think of me in a certain way, and that is my agenda.)
  • Apply the common sense test and trust your judgment when confronted with ‘research’ or ‘expert’ advice.
  • Google is a tool, not a solution. (Nicholas Car wrote smartly about it some five years ago and asked the question: Is Google making us dumb? Don’t fall into the trap.)


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