Friday, January 8

Conducting Research: When Matters As Much As What


In 2008, the big story for air travel was that strict airport security caused more than 41 million trips to be avoided because of airport and airline security delays. The estimated cost to the U.S. economy was $26 billion.

Today, all that has temporarily changed. According to Rasmussen Reports, 63 percent of those surveyed said increased airline security was not more of a hassle than it is worth. And another survey, released today by Destination Analysts, found that almost half of all travelers believe airport screening techniques are not sufficient.

The change in public sentiment stems from the Christmas Day incident involving Abdulmutallab, who ignited his pants leg and a wall of a plane while allegedly trying to detonate a mixture of explosives he smuggled aboard. A few days after, President Obama called for changes to "close gaps in the U.S. intelligence system."

The renewed focus on airport security has resulted in the hastening of more controversial full-body scanners despite shortcomings. (Plans to add more imaging devices were already in place, but not widely reported after a bill barred the use of body imagers as primary scanners.) Equally interesting is the speculation over the next wave of security devices, which are said to be akin to "mind reading" technology.

Reactionary Psychology, Polls, And Public Relations

The topic of airport security aside, the chain of events seems to demonstrate how wildly unpredictable crowd-sourcing can be.

Twenty-four months ago, the public had grown weary over increased airport security. Today, the majority seem to be in favor of technologies that were considered an abuse against civil liberties less than 24 weeks ago. And most analysts see the sudden interest spike in national security to be short term, forgotten in less than 24 days.

And yet, the polls gathered up as evidence to support a direction along with the decisions made during such a time will last much longer. How about your company's market research? Do you consider existing events and trends when reviewing research and making decisions? Or do you assume data captured six months ago is accurate without the greater context?

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