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“will there be fries with that?” a discourse on the beneﬁts and risks of probing by Ruth M. Corbin, Ph.D., LL.M. We know it’s just good sales strategy, Chalk one up for the power of probing. Whatever their reason – busy lives, and we still succumb. Drive through a There is at least sixty years of evidence crowded brains, feeling of depersonaliza- McDonald’s take-out and order the in cognitive psychology that the “explicit tion, ambiguity of where and how to do- Quarter Pounder. Expect the following ask” elicits latent information, behaviour, nate – a personalized request delivered by comeback question, courteously deliv- or attitudes that may not emerge imme- phone, letter, or on the doorstep of their ered by the well-trained server: “Would diately. Concrete cues of something spe- home, can elicit from them a generous you like fries and a drink with that?” You cific being requested are triggers for donation. Another example is taken hadn’t originally planned to have the additional responses to a situation. An from studies of so-called bystander apa- whole meal, but the explicit question example is provided by the research and thy in emergencies.1 Why do some by- elicits a latent desire – your taste buds experience of the United Way. A market standers just stand and watch when a tickle with the remembered taste of segmentation of United Way donors re- person collapses on a subway platform? those franchised fries. “Okay, I’ll have vealed a segment of consumers who are One of the reasons documented by social the fries and drink too,” charitable and well-meaning but scientists is the ambiguity of what action you respond. need to be asked is required. But just have one person take to donate. leadership of the crisis and give instruc- tions to others (“You—go to the pay- phone and call 911”) and helpful behaviour can be elicited from many of those previously frozen by inaction. The comprehensive research program of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky2 expanded the body of available evi- dence that people’s judgments are significantly affected by cues immedi- ately avail- able to them. 1 0 vue M a y 2 0 07 feature This allows for a more complete assess- ment of the respondent’s first impres- sion.4 One cause for legal dispute between companies is whether a name, symbol or design has become sufficiently distinc- tive of a particular single source to func- tion as a trade-mark. STARBUCKS, for example, is inherently a distinctive name in North America for coffee services. SECOND CUP may not be inherently a distinctive name, but it likely has ac- quired distinctiveness through many years of use and advertising in associa- tion with coffee services. Distinctiveness is an important component of the tests for whether a name, symbol or design is protectable under the Trade-marks Act. The issues for testing distinctiveness APPLICATIONS TO APPLICATIONS TO VALID LEGAL came into sharp relief in 2004 when Mi- QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN EVIDENCE crocell, owner of the FIDO trade-mark, Market researchers have drawn on Regulators and courts have expressed took exception to the use of dogs in ad- work by cognitive psychologists and lin- approval for open-ended questions as vertising by Telus, Bell and Rogers to guistics experts to strengthen the scien- part of a funneling approach to an inter- promote their cellular phone services. tiﬁc foundation of questionnaire design.3 view, with questions moving from the They have found that open-ended ques- general to the speciﬁc, and with appro- tions designed to capture attitudes, ex- priate probes. A hearing officer of the perience or opinions can frequently elicit Trade-marks Opposition Board offered more comprehensive and valid responses the following advice with respect to when followed by a probe: “Anything measuring reactions to trade-marked else?” “Any other reasons?” names, symbols or designs. There are several reasons why probes to open-ended questions are frequently [A] survey should be designed to elicit a considered essential. Some people are consumer’s ﬁrst impression by the use of less forthcoming or more reserved by na- open-ended questions such as “What do ture. Some may be impatient to move you think of when you see (or hear) this the discussion along. Some may assess mark?” or “What word comes to mind subjectively the amount of information when you see this mark?” This allows a expected by the interviewer and stop be- respondent to reply in any number of fore they have said everything on their ways. He might state that the mark re- minds. Whatever the cause for initially minds him of another mark, that it re- limited answers, respondents who are minds him of a particular company, that encouraged by way of a probe question he associates it with particular wares or to disclose more of their opinion, experi- services, that he associates it with a par- ence or attitude, will frequently do so. ticular emotion or feeling; etc. Such a Put another way, the absence of probing question should be followed up by one to open-ended questions in some cir- or more prompts in which the respon- cumstances risks incomplete or selective dent is asked if there is anything else he responses. It may even result in a bias in thinks of when he sees the mark or what the data toward the most popular, com- does he think of when the mark is asso- mon or obvious answers. ciated with particular wares or services. vue 1 1 feature PROBING MAKES A DIFFERENCE WHAT ABOUT THE JUNK? added. Since Telus, Bell and Rogers re- IN TESTS OF DISTINCTIVENESS A dissenting researcher may complain ally were using dogs in advertising at Are dogs distinctive of a particular about the opposite risk. “Asking ‘any about that time, the use of probing was company in the field of cellular tele- other companies’ may make respondents consistent with more valid evidence. phone services? Here is a possible survey think you want more answers, that their Since Virgin and Nokia (who have not question to test that proposition. ﬁrst answer isn’t good enough. Then you been known for using dogs in advertis- could get guessing and junk answers, ing) were mentioned by two people in A. “What cellular telephone company or which could weaken the evidence that the group where the probe was worded companies, if any, use pictures of dogs in the trade-mark really is distinctive. “Any other companies?” there was evi- their advertising?” That’s not fair to my client.” dence that too broad a probe question In the author’s opinion, that com- could introduce guessing. In 2004, that question produced an plaint does not contradict the necessity estimate of 58% of cellular telephone of a probe. Rather, it reminds survey de- CASE LAW EXAMPLE users saying FIDO. Eight percent (8%) signers of their onus to design questions Canadian Tire recently received op- named FIDO and at least one other or experimental designs which minimize position to its registration of the name company, most frequently Telus, but the risk of a different kind of bias. They NORDIC, combined with a snowﬂake also scattered mentions of Rogers or have to avoid appearing to pressure the design, for winter tires. The opponent Bell. Note that although the question al- respondent or to create a social desirabil- was a Quebec company selling auto lowed for more than one name (“what ity bias or demand effect.5 The market- parts and tools, and doing business un- company or companies”), it contained ing research literature offers several ideas. der the name Accessoires d’Autos no probe. One option is to rephrase the probe as Nordiques Inc. The opponent claimed A parallel questionnaire was imple- “Any other companies, or not?” The that NORDIC and Nordiques sounded mented with a matched demographic phrase “or not” is thought to issue an ex- the same to a francophone, and that sample of cellular telephone users, which plicit cue that there may not be other Canadian Tire’s brand would not distin- contained a probe in that question. The companies and that an answer of “no, no guish its tire products from the products probe question was worded others” is readily acceptable. Corbin- and services of Accessoires d’Autos Partners Inc. expanded the dog study de- Nordiques Inc. Canadian Tire re- B. “Any other companies? Any others?” scribed above to incorporate an extra sponded with a survey of what the name group of respondents who were asked NORDIQUES would bring to mind, Now 25% offered the name of a sec- the probe at Question B with the words even among those who would think ond company – more than three times “or not” added at the end of the probe. “Nordiques” to be the spelling of Cana- the percentage of “additional mentions” As shown in the middle bar in the ac- dian Tire’s winter tires. In the course of compared to the survey where there was companying graph, the tendency to of- the survey, purchasers of auto parts and no probe. Telus, Rogers and Bell were fer additional names declined to a tools were shown a card with the word again featured among the additional modest extent. In particular, when the NORDIQUES printed on it. They were mentions, as was Virgin and Nokia. “or not” was added, there were no men- asked the following. Clearly, people had more to say after the tions of Virgin or Nokia. initial part of the survey question but of- “Please tell me what, if anything, first fered it only after a probe. comes to mind when you see what is Who beneﬁts from the omission of a printed on this card?” probe question? The party who main- tains a hypothesis of distinctiveness. No “Did anything else come to mind when probing makes it less likely to obtain you saw what appeared on that card or more than one association. Arguably, if not?” researchers are working for a client who believes its name, symbol or design is [If so] “What else?” distinctive, they are obliged to allow for probing. Otherwise, the absence of a As reported by the court,6 “the most probe question risks being self-serving In other words, the strength of evi- interesting conclusion from the survey by under-reporting the number of other dence of distinctiveness of dogs in asso- was the 80% of those surveyed as a mat- associations which respondents may ciation with cellular services declined ter of first impression thought of the hold. somewhat when a probe question was former [Quebec] hockey team when pre- 1 2 vue M a y 2 0 07 feature sented with the word NORDIQUES. A control condition is another tool VUE MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY THE Only 4% thought first of a store that available to discount for guessing. The MARKETING RESEARCH AND INTELLIGENCE sells auto-parts.” The court approved the design of effective control conditions has ASSOCIATION TWELVE TIMES A YEAR Vue survey design as valid and relevant, rely- been discussed in previous columns in ing on it in part for its decision to over- this magazine. turn an earlier judgment of the Researchers’ judgments of question Trade-marks Opposition Board. The design for trade-mark surveys should al- court found that NORDIC and the ways be informed by the ultimate goal – snowﬂake design could function as a dis- to learn what really comes to mind in May 2007 tinctive trade-mark and permitted Cana- the everyday lives of consumers when dian Tire to register it. they encounter a name, symbol or de- CHAIR, PUBLICATIONS sign in connection with goods and ser- Barb Justason, CMRP SUMMARY vices in the marketplace. Justason Market Intelligence Consideration should always be given Tel: (604) 783-4165 to whether an open-ended question re- REFERENCES email@example.com garding attitude, opinion or experience 1 B. Latane & J. Darley. “Bystander ‘Apathy.’” American Scientist, 1969: 57, 244-268. ADVERTISING RATES does or does not require a follow-up The following are the sizes of advertisements that probe. Accumulating scientiﬁc evidence we use. Inserts can also be sent along with “vue” 2 See e.g., D. Kahneman & A. Tversky. in our customary clear packaging. suggests that probes may be necessary in “Choices, Values, and Frames.” American Psy- certain situations to increase the likeli- chologist, 1984: 341-350. Ad sizes (width x height in inches) Full colour 1 page 8 1/2 x 11 $1,279.00 hood of obtaining valid measurement. 2/3 page 4 5/8 x 9 1/2 $1,039.00 The seemingly small technical point 3 R. Tourangeau, L. J. Rips, & K. Rasinski. The 1/2 page (A) 7 x 4 3/4 $799.00 in survey research about follow-up Pscyhology of Survey Response. Cambridge: Cam- 1/2 page (B) 3 7/16 x 9 1/2 $799.00 1/3 page (A) 7 x 3 $599.00 probes is central to tests of distinctive- bridge University Press, 2000. 1/3 page (B) 2 1/4 x 9 1/2 $599.00 ness (or acquired distinctiveness) in law, 1/4 page (A) 7 x 2 1/4 $479.00 4 “Canada Post Corp. v. Mail Boxes Etc.” USA 3 7/16 4 3/4 where the very issue is whether con- 1/4 page (B) x $479.00 Inc. (1996), 77 C.P.R. (3d) 93 at 103 1/8 page 3 7/16 x 2 1/4 $219.00 sumers are aware of none, one, or more (T.M.O.B.). See also “Canadian Tire Corp. Insert (please provide 2100 copies) $1,219.00 than one company in association with a Ltd. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.” (1994), 59 GST must be added to all rates. particular name, symbol or design. C.P.R. (3d) 402 at 407-08 (T.M.O.B.). Frequent advertisers receive discounts. Details Use of an explicit invitation through can be found by going to: www.mria-arim.ca probing for more information needs to 5 Social desirability bias and demand effect are Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your ad. be tempered with careful wording to technical terms describing documented biases that could operate in survey interviews in the The deadline for notice of advertising is the avoid the pressure to guess. Market re- 20th of the month. All advertising material must absence of properly designed questions. be at the MRIA ofﬁce on the 25th of the month. searchers have techniques available to them to reduce the risk of different kinds 6 “Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd. v. Acces- ADDRESS The Marketing Research and Intelligence of biases being introduced by probing. soires d’Autos Nordiques, Inc.,” Federal Court Association File T-1003-05. L’ Association de la recherche et de l’intelligence marketing 2600 Skymark Avenue, Bldg 4 Unit 104 Mississauga, Ontario L4W 5B2 Tel: (905) 602-6854 Toll Free: 1-888-602-MRIA (6742) Dr. Ruth M. Corbin is CEO of CorbinPartners Inc. and Adjunct Professor at Fax: (905) 602-6855 Osgoode Hall Law School. She has served on the boards of several public Email: email@example.com Website: www.mria-arim.ca companies and not-for-proﬁt organizations. In 2006, she was named as one of Canada’s “Top 100 Women”, in the category of Trailblazers and Trendsetters, for PRODUCTION: her work in forensic market research. She may be reached at (416) 413-7600. LAYOUT/DESIGN LS Graphics Tel: (905) 743-0402 Toll Free: 1-800-400-8253 Fax: (905) 728-3931 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For a hard-copy of this or any other articles and columns appearing in vue, MRIA members can download from the MRIA website link www.mria-arim.ca/Archive/Search.asp. New articles or columns are available on the 9th day of the month of the edition in which they appear. ISSN 1488-7320 1 4 vue M a y 2 0 07
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