The popular War Stories column, which presents humorous tales of life in the research trenches, has historically been compiled by Art Shulman, president of Shulman Research in Van Nuys, Calif. Each month in our e-newsletters we feature anecdotes from past War Stories columns and over time, we have received a handful of submissions from our e-newsletter readers who want to share their own outlandish or otherwise entertaining experiences of research gone just-slightly awry.

Submit your own War Story today!

December 20, 2021

A few years ago, Rob Podhurst was conducting an in-store intercept study for a brand of toilet bowl cleaner. When he got to the store where the interviews were to take place, he discovered that the store was out of stock on the product. Quickly improvising, Podhurst headed over to a rival supermarket and filled a shopping cart with the needed product. 

As he stood in line to pay, he noticed he was getting some very strange looks from the woman in line behind him. Seizing the moment, he leaned over to her and whispered, "I've got a very busy day ahead of me!"

December 6, 2021

Mary Ann Farrell tells of a focus group she heard about among women who had very recently given birth. Before the session, one woman walked up to the mirror to apply lipstick. At that instant, as she was attending to her reflection, one of the clients in the viewing room, standing just behind the mirror, lit a match for his cigarette.The woman suddenly saw, through the mirror, superimposed on her face, the face of a man with a flame in front of it. She fainted and had to be revived.

November 22, 2021

Diane Okrent o tells about a able crafts show focus group. To qualify, respondents had to be interested in crafts.  Going around the table, Okrent came to a participant who said, “I’m really not crafty.”  Of course, that respondent couldn’t contribute much to the discussion.   

A...