This paper describes the development and implementation of a research programme devised to evaluate the customer service and transit time performance of carriers within the international air express industry. More specifically, the research which was eventually commissioned by DHL, was designed to produce evidence which could be used in communications to disprove the commodity theory accepted by some buyers of the sector, that is, that all major suppliers offer near identical service standards, the sole differentiator being that of price. The paper gives a brief description of the air express industry, and examines the difficulties and challenges to be overcome in developing a robust and objective measurement system. It proceeds to examine the design considerations and the trade-offs that took place, to arrive at a methodology which provided statistically reliable findings capable of route-by-route analysis, at a reasonable price! The paper will then move on to examine the research technique in operation; how theory was turned into practice. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the successful use of this international research programme on two fronts: internally and in advertising/promotions.