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Is The Customer Always Right?

Sean Parnell - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Marketing 101, we are all taught to believe that customers and clients are always right. But what if they cannot articulate what they want, especially when it comes to new products and services?

Faster Horses

This often happens when they have a problem and there is no current technology or solution that addresses their need. To illustrate this point, Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘faster horses’.”

Pro Audio Example

For example, we worked with a professional audio equipment manufacturer whose customers said they needed a cover for their sound system equipment to prevent mischievous audience members from meddling with the well thought-out parameters set up by an audio professional.

Rather than making a cover, which people could still get around with paper clips and the like (which happened on competitive products),

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Why Market Research?

Sean Parnell - Thursday, November 1, 2012

Market ResearchIf the market is large and growing, we can become millionaires if we just show up and only get 5% market share, right? Wrong.

One of our clients (who shall remain nameless) exhibited this “Show Up and Win” mentality and launched a series of new products without once asking their customers what they wanted or their distribution channel partners if they would sell these new products over the existing products they had sold for years. The result: even in an exponentially growing market, they could only win <1% of the overall market. Why?

Even if the product were in tune with the customer requirements that would generate the most sales (it wasn’t because they didn’t talk to any customers or channel partners before launch), even great products don’t always “win” even if they are the “best” (see Betamax vs. VHS).

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