Nobody can claim to be Cheaper, Faster and Better!

RainbowThere seems to be have been a rash of new claims by some agencies that they are offering a cheaper, better & faster service.

However, in my opinion, this does the agency business a disservice for three key reasons:

  1. The agencies making the claim do not typically have a comprehensive knowledge of what all the other agencies are offering. Without knowing what the other agencies are offering you can’t know whether what you have is better, faster, and cheaper, and if you can’t know it you shouldn’t be claiming it.
  2. Better is not a single thing. For some people better means more analysis, for some it means being able to conduct the same research in 40 countries with good in-country design and interpretation, for some it means quant, for some it means qual. For a specific research project it might be possible to describe one agency as ‘better’ than all of the available other agencies, but no agency can be better in general, because we do not do research ‘in general’ we do specific projects.
  3. In a relatively free and competitive market it is hard for any one supplier to maintain a product/service advantage. Whilst there are often suppliers who are more expensive, slower, and less good than the rest, this does not imply there is an agency that is better, cheaper and faster than the rest.

So, whenever I see somebody claiming to offer a better, faster & cheaper service I am inclined to doubt their veracity or knowledge – i.e. they are either telling fibs or, much more likely, they are simply unaware of the 1000s of alternative solutions. They may also be unaware of the methodological implications of the method they are offering and how that compares with the other available methods.

When is it possible to be faster, better & cheaper?
Whilst no agency or method can be better, faster & cheaper in general, it is perfectly possible to be better, faster & cheaper in a specific situation. For example, an agency might be better, faster & cheaper than a current supplier. Similarly, a specific method (e.g. ethnography, semiotics, discrete choice modelling, research communities, or random web intercept) will be the best, fastest and cheapest solution for some specific research needs.

It is also worth noting that in some situations, best means fastest, assuming that the method is at least good enough to be useful. In this context, anything that is not fast enough is useless – which is a re-working of Voltaire’s saying that perfect is the enemy of good.

A challenge!

Can you think of any brand or service (in any field, not just market research) that within its competitive set is generally agreed to be better, cheaper and faster than the rest?

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