What's the Problem?



What is a specific disadvantage of conventional market research?

The most obvious drawback is that conventional market research influences customer responses.

Zaltman addresses this in more depth than anyone else.

"Most fixed-response questions and focus group moderator questions address at a surface level what consumers think about what managers think consumers are thinking about."
Less obvious are inherent but incorrect assumptions: that consumers think in a rational way; that they can readily explain their thinking and behavior; that minds, brains, bodies, culture and society can be studied independently of each other; that memories accurately represent experiences; and that consumers think in words.
This can lead market researchers to "...mistake descriptive information for insight, confuse customer data with understanding, and focus on the wrong elements of the consumer experience."
(Zaltman, ps. 6-15)

So, conventional methods work at the surface and determine what preferences people might have but not why. It is the "why" that leads to the root needs and breakthrough ideas.

(cont'd above right)



Can you give me an example?

Sure. Consider a simple survey question asking customers to rate their level of interest on a scale from 1 to 5 -- 1 being "definitely don't want" and 5 being "want very much."

If a customer answers 3 how do you know if that means disinterest/no preference, or ambivalence from the conflict between strong opposing feelings? You have no clue about the motivation.




So what is the bottom line?

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