It boils down to the end results

Almost every business that offers goods or services in the free world does some kind of market research to determine what to offer for sale.

Many times these inquires also provide demographic profiling to determine how best to package a good or service to maximize customer satisfaction and thereby maximize sales.

The research methodology may be an annoying canned phone call, junk mail letter or, less often, someone at your front door with “just a few questions for you.” We have “Caller ID” as a part of our phone service. It helps to “weed out” such calls from out of area or from organizations to whom we don’t have much interest in speaking. Those calls with blocked caller ID just don’t get answered.

On the other hand, at work, we have hired firms to do telephone-based market research for Alpena Power Co., so we are just as annoying as everyone else. There always is a fraction of the population willing to talk, so this kind of information helps us shape how we deliver our product and how to plan for the future. I don’t like surveys personally but embrace them corporately. Make of that what you wish. It sounds a little schizo to me.

Generally speaking, when I get a survey form to fill out from government, it’s asking if I shot any sharp-tail grouse (no, not ever) or snipes (I only ever saw one snipe in my life). Never have I seen a survey that asks me which services I would like to see from local, state, or federal government or how much of each service I think would be appropriate to satisfy my needs.

I have never been asked if I cared who provided the service. As an example, if I called 911 for a law enforcement issue, do I care if the sheriff’s department, state police, or city police respond? If it’s a fire, I want a truck and a hose ASAP to take care of the problem. I am not “brand conscious” for emergency services, just as long as someone arrives quickly. By the same token, I don’t have a preference who plows the snow or picks up the brush piled between the sidewalk and the street.

I’m just not into curbs and gutters but I do like fire hydrants. It doesn’t bother me that United Water runs the sewer and water plants. I want to see the water come out when I turn on the tap and I’m not kidding that I want it gone when I flush.

I guess it’s because I am results oriented rather than procedure oriented that I can support the combination of services or governments. As a consumer of commodities (meaning extremely similar products), I’m just not brand conscious. Probably, neither are you. You probably think that a gallon of pure water, a pound of sugar, or a cup of flour are pretty much undifferentiated by brand. I’m a “price” buyer of gasoline. I just want the service and I think you do as well.

My point about consolidation of governments and services is the consumer probably doesn’t care who provides the services, just so long as they are done. Why should we have so many different governments doing the work when fewer bosses could do the same job?

I’m not much of a shopper but I do love the concept of “less expensive.”