As soon as Emma Stone walked down the Academy Awards red carpet in a fabulous bronze Givenchy dress, everyone knew that knock-offs would be offered for sale in mere hours. Thousands of screencaps from TVs and digital devices made it really easy for other designers to quickly and perfectly replicate the gown before the stores opened the next day. Of course, for those of us who’ve learned delayed gratification, waiting a few weeks meant that we could find something reminiscent at the fashion outlet Zara which brings clothing from design to retail in just 25 days.
Givenchy knew that as soon as Emma took to the red carpet with their brand new creation it would be recreated by other, less prestigious fashion houses, possibly generating more revenue for those companies than their own. They knowingly put their new creation in the public space for competitors to steal. The question is this. Have you created a new product that is so intriguing and desirable that your competitors are anxious to take advantage of your creativity and recreate it for themselves – before you do so yourself?
Amazing products can only become amazing with the help of thorough and in-depth research with the appropriate target audiences. But what if you’re worried about conducting early-stage research because people will screen-cap images from your online surveys or, if you’ve disabled screen-caps, take photos of their computer screen to share on social media? How can you preserve the integrity of a new product you’ve put so much time and energy into creating?
Fortunately, there is a solution. Whether you choose mall-intercept, door-to-door, or other forms of in-person research, the degree of security available with these methods is much greater than with other forms of research. Saving images or taking photos simply cannot happen when an interviewer is present to focus people’s attention on the task rather than on their digital devices.
In addition to product security, in-person methods offer targeting security in the sense that some aspects of the desired target audience are guaranteed. For instance, interviewers can be trained to identify people’s approximate age and their gender which can then be validated against self-report demographic questions. And, interviewers can monitor fatigue and engagement levels to ensure that people are able to continue to provide high quality data.
Apart from security, in-person methods such as mall-intercepts are perfect for certain forms of projects, in particular sensory research. Until someone invents true smell-o-vision to replace TVs, scent tests (e.g., perfume, cologne), taste tests (e.g., new flavours of yoghurt), and touch or usage tests (e.g., electronic devices, clothing) will depend on in-person research.
The next time you’re worried about the confidentiality of your new product, consider whether in-person methods such as mall-intercepts might be right for you.