Bj’s 30 Years in 30 Days—June 24 Learn a Little Something

  Bj Kirschner      24 June 2022     

The month of June marks my 30th Anniversary in market research. Since 30 days hath June and I love a good countdown, I have decided to do a Market Research Thought of the Day each day in June. We are in the last week of this! Enjoy! Bj

Bj’s 30 Years in 30 Days—June 24 Learn a Little Something

I once did a study with differently abled respondents.  There were people who could not see, people who could not walk, people who could not hear, etc.  The end clients said they would send us manuals on how to make these respondents comfortable and how to converse with them in ways we had ever before encountered.  That was a good idea, none of us had that skill set.

I wish I had saved the manual. It was written in the 1950s and had cartoon drawings with the explanations.  “Do not push people in wheelchairs into a pool, they may not be able to swim,” said one instruction, with a cartoon of a man being hurled from his chair into a pool.  “Do not place a tray of drinks on dwarf’s [sic] head, he won’t like it” was there with a pouting man, steam coming out of his ears, a tray of martini glasses ready for the taking.

As silly as it was, there was a lot to learn and we were all excited to learn it.  We wanted everyone to feel welcome and to show that we were given consideration to their situations.  When something like that comes up, I take to the nth degree.  I learn more in my spare time, buy books, read articles, that’s the academic in me.  But, it has also come in handy a few times over the years.  In a place like New York City, the Americans with Disabilities Act is not quite strict as it should be, with most buildings’ conditions grandfathered in or on a subway system where every tenth subway is accessible (if you are lucky).

Things went pretty well in the groups.  We were prepared, we did well.  There was one thing nobody thought about.  Though we learned not to speak to or touch companion dogs for fear of accidentally ending their work mode, the dogs themselves did not get the message.  Put ten in a small room and suddenly they become scrappy playful pups again.

It's the spirit of learning stemming from work situations that led to some personal decisions.  I bought a certain breed of dog after speaking to clients from a pet food company.  Before agreeing to see a new physician, I first ask if he or she does market research.  So when I say that this job never truly gets boring because there is always something to learn, I mean it.  At least for me.  They say you have to make you own fun, but you can also make your own classroom.

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