Congrats to Seventh Generation, which just topped the list of the USA brands perceived as the most green in the ImagePower Global Green Brands Survey. An impressive sample of 9000 consumers were interviewed in eight countries for the poll, and most of the others on the list don't really come as a surprise: Whole Foods, Tom's of Maine, Burt's Bees, Trader Joe's, The Walt Disney Company... wait. The Walt Disney Company?
If this was a survey of brands which produce the most princess backpacks and lunchboxes per year, Walt would have been numero uno; however, my assumptions of consumer perceptions of the greenest brands and Disney just don't jive. I had to look into this, and found that the official deck at slideshare gives the impression that consumers were provided with a list of brands to rate on a scale of greenness, rather than being freely able to nominate any brand. Aha. That makes sense.
I don't want to rain on Disney's parade, and a quick scan of their corporate citizenship initiatives certainly shows that they are talking the talk. Just goes to show though how important it is to look behind the scenes when it comes to interpreting any research study.
Image by roboppy on flickr
When it comes to actually designing research studies, it's essential to consider bias issues vigilantly throughout the planning process, whether the study is qualitative or quantitative (or a mixture of both). It can be especially challenging in qualitative research, when you're dealing with data-gathering methods that involve direct conversation with your sample such as focus groups and interviews. This is where the facilitator's experience is vital - he or she must be able to think on the spot, directing discussion to avoid bias wherever possible and gather optimal data.
Want to know more? We recommend an excellent book on the topic: Design Research Methods and Perspectives by Brenda Laurel, available here.