Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why market research surveys suck

People say a lot of things. We say we like this and that; we want to write a novel, move to China, climb a high mountain or fall in love. Many times this wish is blurred by other wishes. They are contradictory; you want to eat chocolate and lose weight. Bad combo! You want to write a novel but are so afraid of failure you come up with excuses on why you can´t (no time, no money, no inspiration, no computer...) You say you want to move to China, but you will do this once you have first achieved a million other projects...

People say a lot of things. Don´t believe them.

I used to trust surveys, and I used to design them and tell clients to pay for them. I still do sometimes, but I take them less serious than I used to. After working as a love coach, hearing thousands of people saying they want to find The One but doing anything to get away from this goal (dating the unavailable, the abusive, not dating at all, pushing every good guy away et cetera), I am more aware of the complexity of mind now, more humble.

To be able to reach the "purchase" state, to make people act and not just talk, you need to be extraordinary and cut through all the competing thoughts and activities. Over and over again I get briefs from clients who have done surveys where Everyone seem super happy about the client´s brand and products, and the marketing director think it will therefore be easy to sell. Wrong! As Richard Rumelt writes in "Good strategy/Bad strategy", too many strategies fail to see the obstacles and challenges, and because of this they are nothing but wish lists to Santa. Not useful. Just fluff.

Strategy based on solid research will be the machete that can cut through the jungle of competing needs. When you know more about people than they know about themselves you can understand the difficulty of the task, but also find ways to solve them.

Don´t trust simple research claiming 99% loves your product. They might, but it doesn´t mean they will pay for it... unless you work harder to make them want to.

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