Parker JeansIn 2008, a violinist named Joshua Bell set up to play in a Washington, DC metro station. He played for about 45 minutes. During that time he collected $32; not a bad haul, but nothing unheard of. About 6 people paused to listen, while others simply tossed money into his opened violin case.

What makes this situation unique? Well, Joshua Bell also happens to be one of the world’s most accomplished classical violinists, a Grammy award winner who happens to play a 300-year old Stradivarius. Two nights before his impromptu Metro gig, Bell played to a sold-out crowd at a Boston theater; tickets for that show averaged $100 each. But in the DC Metro, Bell’s talents and sound didn’t stand out in a way that captured any meaningful amount of attention.

(Information from Snopes.com utilized in the previous paragraphs.)

I’m reminded of the Joshua Bell tale when I think about the analysis of market research data. First of all, as statistician Stu Hunter once said, “Data is not information. Structure within data is information.” That information simply has less impact and meaning without being placed in context. Just as Mr. Bell’s talents could not be properly ingested in a subway station, research results cannot be fully understood without appropriate context.

What provides context for research data? Benchmarking. Comparing one’s information to its peer set or competitors, as well as comparing to its own data over time. Turnkey is ecstatic to begin rolling out our Research Network, a platform that will allow clients to see their data benchmarked against other members of its industry. I’ll save the sales pitch for other forums, but suffice it to say we are quite excited about the ability to improve the actionability of study results.

Next time you see a musician in the subway station, you can wonder if s/he was playing Carnegie Hall last week…..

#####