Thursday, March 23, 2006

Product Surveys, Psychology and Self-Image: What, Huh?

Due to the confidential nature of these surveys, details have been altered to protect confidentiality of products reviewed.

I fill out internet surveys for two companies. Neither company is an advertising front, or email address gathering engine. Surveys come in basically two varieties: proposed advertising evaluation, or a product group review. The product group would be all soft drinks, cookies, or tooth pastes. No surprises in over two years of doing surveys.

Recently, however, winds of change are blowing around ye old survey land. Yes, I get it about how sex appeal, or the hope of same, has been selling products for years. But, now, sex appeal has been replaced with narcissistic self-esteem! Sure, when I go to some fancy-smancy up-scale restaurant and pay fifty dollars for a great meal, I'll admit, it does fluff my self-image. But, today I laughed through most of a survey on generic thirst quenchers. You know, the stuff you throw back when you're thirsty and broke? I found myself confronted with statements I had to react to on a ten-point scale. The scale ranged from total agreement to total disagreement. So far, so good, until I read: "when I drink x, I feel comforted in body and soul" (Excuse me? Are we discussing a massage, a spiritual experience, or Duddly's Carbonated Crud?) I couldn't believe it. And there was more, much more.

I flashed back to a lengthy survey a friend and I did together about fast food. First, the usual questions on reason for the outing, quality and event satisfaction. I was giving my friend his questions over the telephone. I read: "when I ate x, I felt warm and comforted". I was greeted with shocked silence and then laughter. My friend blurted out: "Are we talking about dinner, or hanging out with a puppy?" (Hey, I don't write 'em, I just read 'em)! These questions are plumbing some strange psychological depths. "When I prepare x for my family, I have high self-esteem because my life is organized and yet still fun". Who wrote this, Dr. Phil? We're talking about a freezer-ready fast food, not a therapy session!

But the winner for the most absurd statement over a generic, inexpensive soda pop was: "when I enjoy x I feel light, free and energized all over". My thought would be either really strong coffee, or really good sex, certainly not Duddly's Carbonated Crud! Am I missing something here...?

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