Home > Research Design >A Million Pounds……..How Do You Keep Yours..?

In her latest TNI, Simi Dhawandares to dream about getting her hands on a million pounds, but just how will she carry it?

What’s the largest amount of cash you’ve seen at any one time? For the majority of us, everyday, over-the-counter transactions may involve the exchange of a few £20 pound notes, possibly a few more £10 pound notes and we’ll all certainly be familiar with the £5 pound note – a handy wallet-warmer for the masses.

With this in mind, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I gamesomely directed a brain-teaser over to my colleagues when asking “How many briefcases would be needed to transport £1 million in cash?” The answers were vague and possibly lukewarm given that no-one had seen this amount of cash first-hand. However, of the responses offered, these were as follows:

Colleague 1: “Two cases, max”

Colleague 2: “Hmm….I don’t know”

Colleague 3: “Have none of you watched the Television programme ‘Hustle’? You only need one briefcase!”

So, there was my answer – one suitcase. Or was it?

My experience as a researcher, has led to some reluctance to mindlessly accept an answer without thinking it through. Some might call this over-analytical; I’m more inclined to call it cautious. My dilemma here was that whilst I’d asked the question, I’d failed to give enough surrounding detail. For one, I hadn’t stated the cash-type (was this £50 notes, £1 coins or a mixture?) and for another thing, I hadn’t specified the exact size of the briefcase, in question.
With a little digging, a quick internet search of a briefcase provider revealed that sizes can range marginally between small, medium and large, as seen in the following examples:

• Small Briefcase Size – 16 inches by 11.5 inches by 5 inches

• Medium Briefcase Size- 18 inches by 13 inches by 6 inches

• Large Briefcase Size – 20 inches by 15.5 inches by 7 inches

Based on the above statistics, whilst the variation of several inches might not appear to be much on a superficial level, this could potentially be quite significant when comparing the space available to carry the cash in question, where those extra cubic inches could make all the difference!!

To demonstrate, I wanted to see how size of briefcase impacted upon the number of cases needed to accommodate £1 million in £1 coins. To begin, a quick calculation based on the dimensions above told me that with the medium sized briefcase, I had a volume of 1,404 cubic inches. Looking then at the dimensions of a £1 coin (225 mm in diameter and 3.15mm thick), this had a volume of approx 1.25 cubic centimetres or 0.076 cubic inches. Therefore, the number of £1 coins that a medium-sized briefcase could hold was £18,473……which told me that at least 54 briefcases would be needed in total to accommodate the £1 million pounds discussed earlier. But how did this compare with the small and large briefcase?

Using the same method to calculate this figure, interestingly, the number of briefcases needed varied quite significantly, where for the small briefcase, at least 82 would be required to transport the £1 million pounds in £1 coins versus only 35 (approx) that would be required for the large briefcase. Therefore, size of briefcase, in this example, could be proven to change the outcome dramatically.

Whilst, in truth, the purpose of this exercise was not to advocate the transportation of £1 million in such an impractical manner, it is a comparable demonstration of the considerations and difficulties often encountered when it comes to market sizing. We, as researchers, have to combine common sense, careful thought and research practices to effectively draw out a realistic estimate of the size of any potential opportunity. It is seldom the product of a series of clear-cut figures and distinctions that can be used in a straightforward mathematical equation. The process often involves a thorough and intelligent market assessment that needs to demonstrate plausibility which is, of course, backed up by supporting facts and figures, but which also takes accounts of all threats (e.g. competition, market fluctuations etc) as well as opportunities (e.g. exponential growth, supporting regulations etc). Therefore, extra care should always be taken when scoping out such a project from the offset so that the research has a clear focus and direction, void of ambiguity.

Therefore, to the same colleagues who I directed this question to, I now re-phrase and ask you, “How many briefcases of average UK size (to be researched) would be needed to transport £1 million in cash made up of £5 notes?” Answers welcome, but more questions about this research are what could, in theory, add more value.

For more information on how B2B International can help, visit the Market Assessment page of our website.

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