I think American needs to employ a new research methodology. Here's what they say in their newsletter, which was sent out last night:
"Did you know that AA employs a full-time team of research analysts who conduct various types of qualitative and quantitative research designed to gather customer feedback?
The AA Customer Research department surveys thousands of customers on a continuous basis and gathers other additional ad-hoc feedback frequently. A variety of research methodologies are used, including online surveys, in-flight surveys, syndicated tracking surveys, telephone interviews, usability testing, one-on-one interviews and focus groups to gather feedback from its customers. "
I guess their research methodology is actually highly targeted: they're able to pinpoint audiences that are guaranteed to rubber stamp whatever hairbrained idea the beancounters come up with. Given the cacophony of disgust over this baggage charge, finding people who think this is a good idea are probably few and far between so kudos to the American research analysts who are able to ferret out these supporters of the move.
Being a research analyst myself, however, I have some advice to the American researchers and marketers:
- Read a blog
- Participate on Twitter
- Check out Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15483336193
Then again, perhaps this say more about American's management. Presented with the overwhelming evidence that this was an epically stupid move, they concluded "we know better." My advice to American's researchers: prepare your resumes. Somewhere management is going to throw you under the bus. "Our research failed to appreciate how much our most loyal customers, who are not subject to this insane charge anyhow, would be distressed by it." You know it's coming.