INDEX, an acronym for Information through Disguised Experimentation is an annual market research fair conducted by the students of IIM-Lucknow. Students create games and various other simulated environments, to capture consumers’ subconscious thoughts. This innovative method of market research removes the sensitization effect that might bias peoples answers to questions. This ensures that the most truthful answers are captured to research questions. The games are designed in such a way that the observers can elicit all the required information just by observing and noting down the behaviour and the responses of the participants.
INDEX is primarily a fair conducted in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, which provides the people of the city an opportunity to experience the elements of a mela. Apart from the market research, the fair also attracts crowds through various innovative and interactive entertainment forums such as song and dance events, games, competitions and the many local vendors displaying their goods and services at the ground. The carnival atmosphere generates enthusiasm among the crowd, which leads to a more comprehensive research opportunity for the students to understand market insights in a live environment.
The first INDEX was organized in 1994, with students and professors of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow coming up with a solution to the sensitization effect that affects normal market researches and surveys. Market Research is constantly riddled with issues like the sensitization effect of the survey on the audience making the results of the survey occasionally unreliable. Often, the results of the survey fail to reflect the buying behavior of the consumers. Students and professors of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow came up with a solution to these issues in the year 1994. INDEX is a marketing event where the information sought through the questionnaires is disguised in the form of games, which the respondents play. The respondents think they are just participating in some elaborate skit, and they subconsciously reveal the true options they would have chosen under natural circumstances. The games are designed in such a way that the observers can elicit all the required information just by observing and noting down the behaviour and the responses of the participants. It began as an in-campus event involving staff and faculty families as respondents but since 2001 it has entered into Lucknow city where a fair is organized for the general public.
The concept behind this is called Disguised Experimentation. It is a method of obtaining information from the respondents, where both the respondent and the surveyor have immense take-away from the questioning: the respondent has fun and not a feeling of being interrogated, while the researcher gets data that can be classified as genuine.
Although INDEX is aimed at providing a platform for market research, it is more than a marketing event. It has provided an opportunity for Lucknow residents to come forward and showcase their talents in various fields. Its popularity has attracted a large footfall which has been consistently increasing annually. The fair is designed to provide avenues of interest for all visitors to the fair. Events that have been conducted over the past years include book fairs and science exhibitions by students from the various schools in Lucknow. For the youth of the city, competitions such as “Fashion Parade” and “Choreo Nite”, with an opportunity for ramp walkers to win the title of Mr. and Miss. Index, have been organized over the years. Other events which are open for the public included numerous "Ek Minute" games, kids' dance competitions, "Bollywood quizzes" and "Salsa Performances". Food festivals offering different cuisine at the fair, in association with various outlets, are set up at INDEX aimed at the participants, students and families who visit. The fair also provides gala entertainment offerings with Star Nite performances by artists in the evening of the two days. Entertainers who have visited INDEX include Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Sufi singers "Mehfil-e-Sufiyana", and other artistes from Lucknow.
Throughout its years of activities INDEX has played host to a variety of social initiatives. IIM Lucknow, through INDEX has associated with NGOs such as Mahila Samkhya, and Prithvi Innovations which organised a puppet show during the fair. Various social awareness programs have also been addressed through its publicity mediums. Public issues which have been handled at the fair and its social initiative activities include Road Safety events and HIV awareness drives in association with UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society). Colleges from across Lucknow participate in the street play competition "Jaagran", organised at locations in the City to promote social awareness.
INDEX is a part of the unique market research initiative which is based on the concept of "Disguised Market Research" - which seeks to gain insights into the consumer's perspectives/needs through intelligently designed games to overcome the 'Sensitization Effect'. As a result, IIML's clients spread across the FMCG, Banking, Services and IT sectors and many Industry heavy weights in various sectors . Prominent market leaders which have associated with the fair and the college include Pepsi, Nokia, Cadbury, Aditya Birla Group, Viacom18, HT Media, Star India, Mahindra Group, Reckitt Benkiser, HUL, ITC, Johnson&Johnson, P&G and TATA Group. INDEX has also partnered with various NGOs and associations such as UPSACS for their various initiatives.