Time to think

18 March 2008 at 9:47 am 2 comments


Josh Hunt writes:

As researchers, we are beholden to consumers in many ways, not least their willingness to expend time and effort to talk to us about how and what they think about things. Given that we are frequently reminded that consumers are time-poor, less and less willing to give personal information to strange people and keen to maintain privacy, one might think that nobody would ever take part in any research.

Yet I was struck in a recent project both by how willing people were to spend an hour and a half talking candidly about their plans for the future to a total stranger, and that in many cases people were delighted (and even grateful) to have had the opportunity to reflect on and consider the direction of their lives.

While I am not espousing some grim research-as-therapy model, I think we sometimes underestimate how much people like talking about themselves, how rare it is to have access to a non-judgmental listener, and how little the ‘time-starved’ spend sitting back and thinking. Perhaps research, for some people, is a way getting back some of that much-valued time.

Image with thanks to Polder

Entry filed under: research, stop-go lives.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Manish Sinha  |  19 March 2008 at 7:17 am

    josh, i have had similar experience in the past. i feel often its the clients and researchers who are time-poor not the consumer!

    many a time just when the consumer starts to open up, our standard time allocation for the research is over!!

    i think we must loosen up the format and the process of a research if we are to get to the time-poor consumer.

  • 2. Jo Phillips  |  31 March 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Manish,
    Interesting point – my experience of qualitative research in India was of a much more rigid approach than here at HCHLV and more generally in the UK. Sometimes it felt quite quantitative to me. I agree that we should consider different timescales and approaches – have you tried anything new recently?


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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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