Imagine if there was no market research.
Would you ever fill this donation form even if you were deeply altruistic?
It’s tedious, boring and by the time you reach the end, your charitable mood is diluted.
Now go back to the time when you spent long irritating minutes setting passwords. Aaaarrrrgghhh!
Human truth: People don’t like chores.
Hence, too much work is a sure way to reduce the number of conversions.
Look at these products that are incredibly designed but a colossal pain in the ass to use.
The watering can that loves to shower.
“Everybody, drink wine out of the bottle!”
When you don’t want your friend to finish your food, just hand this over.
Erm… use it as a stand for your incense sticks?
“But… But… Peep-toe is in fashion!”
It’s appalling, but there are more examples like these. And when the consumer sees such products, they despise the company for their lack of sensitivity and logic. Much like what Dilbert says here.
Ultimately people buy products, because they do something for them, and they serve a useful purpose. And this makes understanding humans mandatory in market research.
You must have heard during brainstorming sessions, “We already know our users. Our management has been in this for over a decade.” But have they really kept abreast with the ever-evolving consumer? Not always.
In 2007, Cartoon Network set up LED signs in various places throughout cities to promote one of their cartoons. A resident in Boston (America), however, thought the devices were bombs and called 911. This harmless promotion of a cartoon character turned into a terrorism scare, resulting in the shutdown of many public transportation lines. (Source: Hubspot)
There are ample examples of market research propelling brands to success.
Although Samsung’s cart might slowly be blowing up in the mobile phone segment, it wasn’t too long ago when their understanding of consumer helped them create a blockbuster product.
Using price and performance indicators, Samsung’s engineers built products based on the brief. Until… Samsung’s team noticed that business people in Korea and Japan had a habit of taking notes in pocket-sized notebooks. This led to a product idea — a “smart diary” complete with a pen (the stylus). It was larger than Samsung’s existing smartphone, smaller than its tablet – the size of a perfect notebook. And they made it pleasant for writing. The research eventually led to the highly successful Galaxy Note series.
You’ll know that a product is backed by strong market research when it solves or at least alleviates problems.
For instance, you know the pains of paying for extra baggage after spending on shopping. Think of the many times you’ve gone batshit, obsessing over your luggage if the conveyer belt doesn’t carry it within the first 2 minutes. You’d probably want to sit on the belt and go backstage to see what’s up!
Introducing Bluesmart Suitcase - the genius suitcase equipped with GPS to help find it if it goes missing. A built-in digital scale weighs bags so you know how much to stuff in and a battery lets users charge devices. The users can lock their baggage with a digital lock controlled by their smartphones. You might still need to tie ribbons on the handle to distinguish your suitcase from the rest, but all in all, it’s perfect.
Market research is important to keep the product relevant. The selfie stick is an inexpensive and easy way to take solo pictures. They were designed at a time when ‘Selfie’ was so popular that it became Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. The product rode on existing human behaviour and made the action of taking your own pic easier to execute.
Steve Jobs infamously dissed market research. He said, ““Some people say, ‘Give customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”‘ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
Seems like very few people paid attention to the last line. Bob Gilbreath, Co-Founder & CEO at Ahalogy being one of them. In his illuminating LinkedIn post, he explains what Jobs actually meant when he said those words.
“One should never conduct a research study that asks people what they want, yet it is a mistake that big and small companies make every day.
…you’ve got to “show them” what you have come up with and use their reactions to guide you. Apple has a massive team of user experience people who use customer input and testing to improve their products.
Side note: Here’s proof.
“He (Jobs) saw early on that people were interested in using computers, but were frustrated at their complexity. He saw that people loved music, but couldn’t stand loading a few dozen songs at a time onto the early MP3 players. Jobs deeply understood how people engaged with technology.”
Perfect product is a series of decisions you make after you ask the right questions. What material should we use? Should it be this colour or that, or how many colours? What’s the first thing the user sees? What happens when the user clicks here?
These questions are very difficult to answer. Apple probably asked their questions like this.
What material will the user be most comfortable using, or the one that will withstand multiple falls? Will the user want this colour or that, or how many colours? What’s the first thing that would delight the user? What happens when the user clicks here?
When BlackBerry was busy making phones that the business executives were drooling over, Apple thought, what could be more human than touch?
Check the iPhone’s passcode screen. If you enter an incorrect passcode, the four dots above the number pad shake from left to right several times. It mimics a negative headshake, a universal human gesture.
To sum it up in a perfectly articulated quote from the book Startup CEO, “Ford’s customers didn’t say that they wanted a “safer” horse or a “more comfortable” horse. They said that they wanted a faster horse. They were perfectly clear about what they wanted: speed”
As a market researcher, our task is indeed to read things that are not yet on the page.
So, don’t go looking in the market to tell you what to build, or look to validate whether an idea will be successful. Instead, spend time with people in their homes, watch them in the stores, and understand their lives, their needs. Then create a product to delight your consumer.
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