When Market Research Gets it Wrong

With my book Consumer.ology now published I’m starting to hear back from people who have heard about it, read it or read or heard an article or interview about it. One of the very positive upsides to this is that more people are starting to share their stories of market research getting it wrong.  Whilst I managed to unearth a good number of examples for the book, the fact is that it’s not really in anyone’s interests to publicise occasions when money spent on research was wasteful.  Occasionally there’ll be times when someone’s decision was vindicated and they’ll speak about it, but often the people making the final decision are also the ones who have decided to spend several thousand pounds on research, and choosing to ignore it doesn’t reflect particularly well on that decision even if it’s the right thing to do! One reader contacted me to tell me […]

Rebranding: Learning from the Past

I once had a conversation with the Marketing Director of a brand that is a household name in which he suggested that no products had updated their brand identities.  We were having the conversation because his main brand was so tired that sales were in decline and customers didn’t see its packs on the shelves of their supermarkets: it looked exactly the same as it had a decade earlier (and it was hardly the most relevant product back then). When I used Skoda as an example, he moved the goal posts to FMCG products.  Then when I referenced other FMCG products that had dramatically redesigned their brand without disaster he argued that these weren’t in the same category as his product. So his point was, that since none of his competitors had successfully updated their brand identity, he shouldn’t be the first one to risk it. Except, of course, all of […]

Innovation: Can Market Research Help?

Yesterday I visited the Marketing Week ‘Insight Show’ at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.  I was underwhelmed. For the most part the market research companies who were exhibiting were pedalling the same old methodologies in the same old ways – all the stuff that doesn’t really work but makes companies feel better. A number of firms were presenting themselves as excellent at helping clients with innovation: I’m not convinced that this is something market research can help with: as Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”  Or perhaps they would have said they wanted the same horse cheaper. I have no problem with talking to consumers – it’s a very worthwhile thing to do: there’s a small chance that one person might say something that sets an idea off in your head and leads to create something amazing. But the problem with […]