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The term “interpretive research” refers to the technique of gleaning knowledge about a product’s features by applying the researcher’s knowledge and understanding of the social universe in which he or she operates; the term is often contrasted with the experimental research in which a product is examined under scientific procedures such as statistics, control groups, artificial scenarios, etc. The best products for interpretive research are familiar evertday products with some innovation. Observing these samples in a real-life environment can reveal flaws and improvements based on “human nature”; that is, the natural actions and reactions of most human beings not marred by the artificial setting of a laboratory. The easy-open lid that the questioner brings up is a good example. Another product open to interpretive research is food, especially spicy food, since the reactions to the taste is written on the consumer’s face. Another product whose everyday use can be altered to “read” consumer reaction is the eating utensil. A recent example is the plastic spoon that comes with small ice cream containers and is attached to the lid. The ease of dislodging it and using it was measured by direct observation at test market sites, until researchers realized that the malleability of the plastic had to be just right—too hard and the consumer got frustrated prying it off the lid; too soft, and the spoon could not bite into the frozen ice cream. This is an example of the value of interpretive research.
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