Why I think doing market research for new products is…the dumbest thing ever.
All those surveys, polls, asking around to friends/colleagues. All silly. If I ever see a company doing it, they have officially decreased the chances me of ever taking them seriously.
1. The best “research” comes from experience.
Comes from working in the industry. Dealing with operations, vendors, clients, and coworkers day in and day out. Doing things (and having done them in many ways) for many years is what gives you the most valuable experience. Could it be that an industry person might have blindspots and bias? Absolutely.
But I’d still pick the experience of an everyday insider over some clown running polls and surveys to discover “insights” he should have already instinctively known!
Anytime I see companies asking around to try and figure out what the markets wants, it’s clearly either A) someone who doesn’t know the industry at all, or B) someone who works in it and still hasn’t got a clue.
And if they don’t have a clue now, how do you expect them to pivot with trends in the future? How do you expect them to stay on top? No sirree! This ain’t the company for me. No vision, no instinct, no leader. Just a blind man trying to monetize.
2. Market research is flawed.
This isn’t my personal opinion. It’s a widely-known FACT in the marketing world. Marketing research is blind and biased as hell. It a crapshoot of hoping your biased research somehow gets insightful answers from consumers who don’t know what they want. Time and time has shown again that consumers rarely act rationally.
They may tell you what they want. They may even promise you what they’d buy.
…and then they go and buy something else.
That’s because humans are emotional more often than logical. We buy what we FEEL like buying. And if you even try to influence our feelings with numbers and stats, we’ll purposely go out and find new numbers and stats to confirmation-bias ourselves into whatever we want to think!
But most noteworthy of all is that market research can’t judge the future. If in 2005, you’d ask how many people would pay over $300 for a phone, damn near everyone shouted NO! I’m also willing to bet many of those people probably also thought they would never pay that much for a phone. But not long after Apple was selling iPhones for $1k and everybody (including people who didn’t have that kind of money) was buying them!
3. Best way to test a new product is to try it.
Try it and see. Have an idea? Launch it.
Don’t talk about it. Don’t speculate on what coulda, shoulda, woulda. Don’t ask for opinions about your idea. Make it real and see how real world people respond to it.
More often than not, you realize the idea doesn’t even matter at all. It’s all in the execution. Look on paper….iPhones and Android are both the same damn thing. They’re both smartphones. They both got apps and games and features and slick touchscreens with HD cameras built-in.
But we all know which one is considered “superior” by consumers. We also know which one is considered “superior” by consumers who haven’t even tried either.
Anyway, I digress. The only way to know something is to have already done it. Some of the most successful people I know acted on a hunch. An instinctual gut feeling whether something might hit it big or not. The other people found it purely by accident. Almost never have I heard of a small business market-researching its way to success. It sounds like science-fiction to me.
4. Market research can be used for current products.
Market research is still a great way to get feedback on the current market. To know how consumers feel about certain brands and certain products. It’s great for a market that doesn’t have much innovation going on. You can use this information to make slight adjustments to product or branding to improve your market position.
I’m sure you can use this information to do a hundred other things. But the most important thing is to keep in mind that there will always be blindspots. Nobody can predict the future. New technologies may emerge and transform entire industries overnight.
It’s a bit like researching what kind of trains people liked riding the most, and then having to throw all that out the window when cars were invented. Product-based market research isn’t the same as solutions-based market research. Anyway, I’m too lazy to write any further on this. I think y’all got my point.
5. Best way to do market research? Be a user.
It never fails to amuse me how so many users can so easily pick their favorite products. Yet many companies and market researchers can’t pin down where the difference lies. It’s because they aren’t users.
Think about it. The best way to do know a market is to be a typical user in it. Try all the products. Don’t just measure stat sheet specs, actually use them! Know their strengths from personal experience!
And now for the part most market researchers miss…test the entire USER EXPERIENCE. Where is it sold? How are the packaging and delivery? How is the personality in follow-up emails? How is the service? How does it feel speaking with others about the product? How much longterm brand trust is there?
And dammit, no asking around to other people. Try it for yourself and you’ll know! And if you don’t know the answers to all this already, then I think you shouldn’t be in that business!