/ by Natashia Tjandra

Your company’s image and its reputation can also bias the attitudes of people coming to test with you….Preconceptions may alter tha way people behave and affect the results of the research.

Mike Kuniavsky “Universal Tools: Recruiting and Interviewing.” Observing the user experience: a practitioner’s guide to user reasearch. (P.129)


This is so true. It’s perhaps best demonstrated by one of MadMen episoded, named “the Gypsy and the hobo.” In it, we meet Annabelle Mathis – an old flame of Roger’s. Annabel’s company, Caldecott Farms, is losing market share because consumers have learned its dog food contains horse meat. She’s challenging the big ad agencies to reverse public opinion. The ground rules: She won’t change the recipe, or the product’s name.

Sterling Cooper, conducts a focus group testing, with the client and key agency personnels, witnessing it live behind a two way mirror. The participants were required to bring their dogs. The dogs will be required to taste different dog foods in unmarked bowls. At first, the dog owners had only positive review on the dog food, as their dogs finished the bowls filled with Caldecott Farms dog food in record time, refusing to eat the rest of the other bowls. When they found out that it was Caldecott Farms, they were enraged. Some even threatened to sue.

Although the nature of the product being sold is different - we are talking about web and user research, while my story is about an advertising agency - I believe that consumer perceptions easily influenced how they behave or answer questions during interviews/user tests. Because of all the preconceived conclusions they formed by the media. It’s best to keep your brand anonymous when doing the interviews and user tests.

Another example is blind taste testings of coke and pepsi. Most people can’t tell the difference. Why some people prefer one brand the other? Consumer perception, shaped by advertising, marketing and branding of that particular product.