Call them vendors, they will sell
The message of this blog is that the recent trend to calling researchers and agencies 'vendors' is bad for research.
Call them vendors they will sell; call us research designers and we will think.
Clients keep telling researchers they are doing too much selling and not enough thinking. Three examples:
Hector Paris of Etihad speaking at a recent was very very clear on this point: "we need the thinkers".... we don't need the sellers". He wanted "people who can make a complex world simple". I encourage you to listen to the whole talk, as I have only picked out a couple of his main points.
Quirks' cited client-side researchers asking research agencies (they called them 'vendors' but there's the problem right there) to "take the time" to understand their business and the project. How appalling that they should even have to ask that!
The I wrote for the revealed that "corporate clients described their relationship with research suppliers as in some way imperfect. Some were dissatisfied with their experience. Others were satisfied but looking for more." Clients wanted researchers who would challenge them. One point not made in the report: that to find these client-side researcher conversations, I had to wade through thousands of supplier-side researchers' blogs, tweets and posts selling techniques and in some cases bad-mouthing competitors' techniques. Why on earth would clients engage with that kind of conversation?
I guess the 'vendor' language has come from procurement. There is no reason at all why we should follow suit. It creates a 'frame' through which we will inevitable see the world.