Common Sense is Free.

A gallon of research is worthless
without a teaspoon of common sense.

Recently, Bodega, a start-up founded by two ex-Googlers, received more than a bit of negative attention on social media.  But why?

It looked sleek.
It had big name funders.
It had a ‘relatable’ name with a cheeky, familiar mascot (the omnipresent Bodega cat).
It had done beta tests and was ready to launch.

But its (later backpedaled) mission was to, essentially, obliterate mom-and-pop owned urban corner stores by creating modern, demand-responsive vending machines filled with non-perishables.  And the brand identity it chose happened to appropriate their targeted victim’s identity.

Technology has undoubtedly changed every business sector.  But no one thought it was even a little bit obnoxious to put a target on the back of small business owners and be brazen enough to name the arrow after their stores?  Even Amazon didn’t try to call itself ‘’.

Research was supposedly done.  In a recent Fast Company article, co-founder Paul McDonald stated, “We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said ‘no’. It’s a simple name and I think it works.”

The context and the wording of the questions and the sample, however, is unclear.  Had these polled Latin Americans even patronized a bodega? Was the original mission, to eliminate the existing and already threatened corner store, also made clear when the survey was conducted? Mmmmm… highly unlikely.

Consumer research is important, and is tremendously helpful for setting brand strategy.  But it has got to be checked by a little bit of common sense… and, unlike most research, sense doesn’t cost a dime.

If you think that you need to do a survey to verify that you aren’t appropriating a cultural term, perhaps that’s your first sign that you probably are.