<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id='25766'>Études from market : go to a environment too homogeneous !

Faced with their responsibilities - and above all their errors of assessment - after the surprise election of Donald Trump, the American media castigated themselves with various and sundry self-criticisms; above all, they had to respond to the questions and reproaches of their readers.

"Please come down from your New York skyscraper and join the rest of us".a certain Nick, a subscriber to the New York Times.

Their first mistake was undoubtedly to have placed blind trust in the many polls showing Clinton in the lead... which turned out to be true at the ballot box, with the Democrat winning the popular vote by a wide margin.

But since the American system is two-tiered, with citizens electing grand electors, it would certainly have been necessary to monitor samples of 1,000 per state on an ongoing basis - i.e. 50 times 1,000 for an acceptable margin of error: that's expensive.

Another methodological problem lies in the need to extrapolate: when it comes to politics, people are not always honest - and are they honest with themselves? And since the Trump phenomenon appears to be unprecedented, on what basis can the necessary adjustments be made? France had a similar problem in 2002.

Be that as it may, Nick's criticism goes much deeper: journalists - and particularly those in the big newsrooms, those who 'make opinion' - live in a particular ecosystem: even when they send reporters into the field, their reasoning and values are those of a very specific social group.

Politicians are often criticised for living completely out of touch with reality - with the people they are supposed to represent - but we all live in similar little bubbles: the people we meet, both in our professional and private lives, are a lot like us.

Researchers from the Palo Alto School teach us that we all live in homogenous systems, which may be open... but they're not so open after all!

That's why engineers are often so disappointed when consumers don't approve of their super inventions: it was to remedy such misunderstandings that demand marketing was born, to compare their discoveries with customers' expectations; that's how market research came about.

Reading a research report carefully helps us to understand consumers 'rationally' and avoid serious mistakes; however, it does not reduce the cultural barrier - it does not create empathy between marketers and their customers... and sometimes that is not enough.

Procter & Gamble was the first to take the plunge a few years ago by sending its marketing teams to visit ordinary users of its brands in their homes: an enriching experience, even if difficult to organise.

But wouldn't the first step be to attend, behind the two-way mirror, the various group meetings where complete strangers talk passionately about its products?

It's not just a breeze-by, where you listen with a distracted ear to a few repartees before running off to dinner in town.

Not even the quasi in extenso verbatim reports, which are listened to at face value, without the necessary hindsight to avoid many misunderstandings.

No, attentive, sympathetic listening is the best way to immerse yourself in social groups to which you don't belong: it only costs a little time and enriches your experience considerably.



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