As an avid viewer of this years The Apprentice, it was drawn to my attention the somewhat dubious business practices which have been displayed by the candidates when conducting market research. More specifically, the methods used when researching the market for their products could be perceived as bias.

One noticeable episode Paris [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0125kwl] saw the two teams purchasing British products with the aim of selling them to the French.  During the process of shortlisting the possible products to sell, one team shortlisted an innovative back pack which transformed into a child’s car seat along with a teapot light.

The sub-team situated in Paris was asked to conduct the market research to understand the usefulness and desirability of the products before deciding which to choose. They proceeded to interview people situated at the Paris Metro and their line of questioning consisted of asking "Which product is a better idea?" Out of four people (2 male and 2 female), two thought that the car seat/ruck sack was a good idea and one thought it was not as people travel by metro. From this, the final person was asked whether people travel mainly by car or metro which he responded "by metro". With an already biased view that the car seat would not be suitable, Melody’s conclusion was that “the car seat/ruck sack is not a good idea for the mass market as people don’t use cars very much”.

This research clearly highlights what not to do when researching the desirability of your product. Firstly, understand who you need to speak to and in this case that would be people with children and a car. Secondly, ensure you interview in a relevant location, i.e. not in the underground when researching a car product and thirdly, do not take into account your own personal views on the product and listen to the market research; in this instance, only 3 people were asked the same question and of these, 2 favoured the product.

Within this episode and many others, the perception towards market research was not a true reflection of what market research is really all about. The purpose of market research is to establish the opinions and gather information about particular products from customers or potential customers without any bias and then analyse the results to determine whether there is a need or want for the product.

To note: The opposing team who took on the car seat/back pack went onto producing over £200,000 worth of sales which brought a rare smile to Lord Sugars’ face as it was a record for the boardroom since the series started in 2004!