Monday, June 28, 2004

Would You Buy A Used Focus Group From This Paper?

Today's Boston Globe squanders a story of wonderful potential about the phenomenon of wife acceptance factor (WAF). This is a topic continuously discussed by married men who all find that their purchase of gadgets is now constrained by the aesthetic sensibilities of their spouses. Perhaps the first blunder in the creation of this story was the assignment of female reporter. How can men be expected to share such intimate secrets with an unknown female not employed in the adult entertainment field? This is the equivalent of sending a male sports reporter to cover an event at the local rape crisis center.

Where the story really falls down is in its selection of 2 "typical" couples to represent this universal gender dilemma. The first couple consists of a money manager from a happily unnamed firm who got into trouble with his spouse by purchasing (by mistake) an expensive motorcycle on eBay. He got out of this trouble by trading the motorcycle in on a new Nissan 350Z sports car for himself plus a new Honda Element for his spouse. Clearly, this couple has far more money than sense, and that would still be true even if their income was substantially lower. The article is complete with a picture of this blissful couple and his shiny new sports car – he in a T-shirt and baseball cap, while his beaming bride smiles at him from inside a tent-sized tie-dye T-shirt.

Somebody please bang the gong! Can you spell D.I.N.K?

The second focus group couple is a forty-ish pair of high powered tech executives (now both retired, although she seems to have commenced a second career as a power shopper). These two are currently gutting and renovating a newly purchased home in Brookline. For those of you not acquainted with our locale, a few facts concerning the real estate market in Brookline will be helpful. At this moment according to Realtor.com there are a 88 single-family homes for sale in the town of Brookline, the median price of which is approximately $1.6 million, while the 5th and 95th percentile prices are $500,000 and $5 million, respectively. Couple #2 of our little Globe focus group (some Googling reveals) were fortunate enough to cash out their founder stock of a networking company that was acquired during the Internet boom years. Get the picture? More power to them, say I, but they are hardly focus group material for any study venturing outside of Louisberg Square. Do these folks remind you of your neighbors? Not you, TeRAYsa! I’m talking about the other Globe readers.

Our second focus group couple, as part of this renovation to their new multi-million dollar home is buying 4 high-definition flat-panel TVs with remote controls located throughout. In common sense terms (which do not appear in this article) the TV budget for their home renovation would finance a fine new kitchen for most ordinary folks.

Thus is squandered another opportunity (and they are so rare today!) to tell a story which enlightens readers on the common yet precarious balance between concord and conflict so characteristic of that subset of today’s Massachusetts marriages that feature gender diverse couples.

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