It appears we may be making progress by switching to the lexicon of love. Consumers and respondents deserve to be acknowledged as people!
Consumer researchers love to group people. It's central to what we do in our profession to help us reduce the complexity of the world so we can understand it better, and therefore do better things.
Of course, each of us belongs to multiple and often overlapping groups, which means the group we're identified with in any one context, for any particular use, is only useful in that context and for that use. Being grouped as a vegetarian is very useful at meal times, less so between meals.
Reaching conclusions through grouping and decision making
In fact, this tendency to group people isn't unique to consumer researchers. It's actually a well-understood natural process all humans use to make sense of complex things.
From an evolutionary point of view, the ability to reach conclusions fast by seeing just what matters in the current context has been advantageous to our species.
Like many evolutionary adaptations, however, this tendency to simplify has its limits of usefulness and it's good to understand those limits. Overuse of this particular advantage leads to poor understanding, and therefore poor actions.
One historic manifestation of this has been the tendency to assume differences in behaviour between basic demographic groupings in consumer research.
Thankfully we've moved beyond... Read more