I was freezing my tush off a couple of weeks ago at Wrigley Field
and inquired to my good friend why he had made the unlikely (in my
mind, at least) switch from marketing to insurance. It seemed to me
that he was turned off by the manipulative and predictive nature of
old-school marketing – as though statistics and market research would
tell exactly how someone would behave.
Then, just yesterday, I read both David Oglivy’s chapter “18 Miracles of Research” in On Advertising and Hank Williams’ post Who Needs Market Research. The stars seem aligned to answer a few questions about market research, including: Why can I not rely solely on market research and how can the online channel help?
Sure, research is helpful to some extent. As Ogilvy said,
“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals
who ignore decodes of enemy signals. (pg. 158)” But you are making a
severe mistake if you expect focus groups, polls, and testing to divine
your strategy like a Magic 8-ball.
Market research (especially customer-focused research) must be taken
with a sizable grain of proverbial salt. Here are three reasons why:
1. While I think there is some use of market research, I agree with Hank Williams’ hypothesis that content and experience are much more important. People cannot articulate an experience they’ve never had.
Focus on producing good content and a good experience – not whether
people claim that they understand how they think they will respond to a
hypothetical situation. And even if you have the product or
advertisement, do you really think people will respond the same way to
it during a focus group at the mall as they would in their own homes?