Moral Dilemmas
Written by Martin Brock,

I was reading recently in the most recent copy of the National Trust’s magazine about a display at Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire. A local artist has designed 5,000 small porcelain black rhinoceros’ horns which are on show, each representing one of the remaining black rhinos left in the world. Unlike most installations which are to be viewed but not touched, here visitors have the option of taking home one of the horns should they wish. However, they face the moral dilemma that each one taken cannot be replaced and will leave fewer and fewer for others to experience.

The story came up at the same time as a segment on BBC Breakfast about packaging in supermarkets. My colleague Lyn recently wrote a piece about sustainability which is a hot topic at the moment. The BBC Breakfast segment followed in a similar vein, including looking at the price of packaged vs. loose goods. They cited the example of croissants, where buying the same number of loose pastries was 20p more than buying the same number in plastic packaging. If you ask people if they would consider buying loose goods to avoid single-use plastic, I imagine that the vast majority would say that they would. However, if it came to the reality of being 20p out of pocket and having to carry loose, flaky pastries, I would imagine that far fewer would opt for the more environmentally-friendly option.

By way of an aside, I once saw Coldplay as a support band. I personally couldn’t have envisaged the career that they would’ve had from that performance as I thought that they were dire, but clearly millions disagree with me. That’s what makes market research so interesting, as you never know how people will react. I’d like to think that I’m a better researcher than a music scout, and it’s fascinating to unpick a set of answers to a quantitative survey to understand why people have reacted in the way they have to a particular idea, product or service. We have a widely-experienced research team here at Gusto and was are always ready to help address whatever research needs you may have.

As for the porcelain rhino horns, who knows? I could hypothesize about the moral compass of National Trust members, given they’re helping to fund a charity that protects the countryside and historical buildings, but who knows in reality how people will react when faced with the offer of a souvenir from their trip. I’ll have to take a trip to see for myself whether I’m right.

By Martin Brock

Martin Brock