May 9th, 2012 § § permalink
If someone asked you back in 2006 if you would be willing to pay twice the amount for a phone than you did then, would you have said yes?
What if they then asked you if you would be willing to upgrade it every 1 or 2 years, at full price?
If those had been the questions, chances are you would have said no. I’m guessing that Apple was a lot smarter in their research before launching (and pricing) the iPhone.
What if someone asked you if you would be willing to pay $300 for a designer garbage bin? Or how about paying a dollar for a bottle of water?
Well, Apple (and other companies) used smart marketing and a strong brand to make us want to pay through the roof for a phone. We happily pay $1 or more for a bottle of liquid gold and Vipp, a Danish company designing luxury kitchen and bath ware, charges $300 for their designer bins. They sell very well, and customers place them in the most prominent place in the kitchen, for everyone to see.
In all of those cases, the obvious questions were not the ones consumers were asked to answer. So why is it that so much of the research we see every day only touches the surface and that no one seem to question the reasons behind the answers?
Consumer research is tricky, and knowing what to ask, how to ask it and what to listen for, is key.
A 21-year old woman is likely to purchase an expensive designer bag due to a variety of reasons; a combination of life experiences, her level of self-confidence, the people she spends her time with, and, perhaps most of all, an innate need to show that she has ‘made it’, to people in her circle. However she will never tell you that. Instead she is likely to tell you, in full honesty, that she bought it because of its quality and design.
Because people’s emotions are tightly connected to their actions, and very often we are not able to articulate why we do something.
Close to 95% of our thoughts are unconscious, meaning we are unaware of them. Therefore it is very difficult to find out why people behave the way they do. Certainly you need more than a questionnaire to determine a root cause.
80% of new products or services fail within 6-months or do significantly worse than estimated.
I wonder why?
December 18th, 2010 § § permalink
Anyone will tell you that customer service is the most important aspect of his or her business. Most people will also say that the feedback they get from customers drive the way they do business and develop new products and services.
But consider what questions you put to consumers and how you use the feedback you get. I say this because isn’t customer satisfaction is really about defining expectations and delivering on them? No one can deliver on everything, but you can (or should) deliver on the promises you make.
Customers think of themselves first, and really don’t care who delivers what, as long as they get what they want. If you freely let consumers define how they want to be satisfied, you will find it really, really hard living up to their expectations.
A brand is a promise fulfilled so you controlling both the promise and the delivery should pave your road to success.
This may sound silly, but if think about it; If you act on all feedback your product will end up looking like the products of everyone else (because why should your customers tell only you what they want?).
Stick to your brand and your values. Develop and adapt products to fit and make sure that you deliver what you promise. Make sure you check with consumers whether they think you have delivered on those promises, but make sure you maintain your point of differentiation.
November 1st, 2010 § § permalink
Consumer research is a $25 billion business today, up from a mere $7 billion in 1993. So why is that almost the same amount of brands fail today as back then?
Research is important, and should be adopted into your marketing strategy. But, don’t get pulled into using consumer research to quickly change your brand. People change all the time, brands rarely do. In today’s fast-paced world, an average professional stays in a job for 2-3 years, before moving on to something else. Ford has been around since 1903, Apple since 1977. Brands have to be consistent to mean something.
Ask the market what it thinks, listen to the findings and consider them. But remember, people care about their own needs, before that of your brands. Whatever the market tells you, it will also tell your competitors – if you all listen to the same demands, you may just end up with brands that have similar messaging. Don’t change your color to yellow because more people have started to like it. Stand your ground and stay true to your brand and what it was built to be. Those who buy it will reward you.
On April 23, 1985 after listening to the feedback of over 200,000 consumers in taste tests, Coca-Cola famously changed the taste of the Coke. It was an expensive mistake, and as a result ‘The Coca-Cola Classic’ was re-introduced within a mere couple of months.
If consumers just wanted a cola drink with a great taste, they would buy a much cheaper brand. What they wanted was the feelings, values and experiences that the Coke offered them.
Value feedback, encourage it, respect it and thank customers for it. But be careful when adapting it into your brand strategy. Brands do change over time, but in stages, not over night.