It is very hard to sell to people we don’t understand. We turn to market research for help to understand who our best potential customers are. This quest usually starts with assumptions about common characteristics these people have to be predisposed to our products or services. It is common to assume that certain age and gender groups, or their residence, would make them more interested and capable to spend their money on our offering. Normally we come to these assumptions based on our personal experiences and intuition that we call “common sense”.
I wonder if that “common sense” is the same one that came with very accurate definition of what happen to us when we ASSUME?
I am sure that most people would prefer to KNOW instead of assuming and estimating, but there is no good way to know what does not exist yet. However there is a way of making better assumptions and estimates.
Steve Jobs is often and rightly credited as the genius behind Apple’s great success in assuming what consumers really want, but I wonder if there is a method behind his magic. Just how much sorcery is needed to figure out the requirements for iPod if you take a really close look on what customers, who purchased MP3 players, have experienced? Imagine watching these people figuring out tiny menus trying to find and play a music track they want to hear. Surely the age and gender may influence just how much of inconvenience one can tolerate, but the very fact that these people have made a decision to spend their money for something that is so imperfect, uniquely qualify them as a special market segment that supersede the traditional market segmentation criteria based on demographics.
The special applications tablets and digital e-readers were around for a few years and relatively large number of people and companies spent considerable time and money using these devices. Wouldn’t it make sense to learn from them what could make their investment even more compelling, and as the result attractive to even larger audience?
Consistency of the Apple success in introducing the products customers want suggests scalable methodology and transferable skill. I think the vision of current, successful products of your potential competitors as an early prototype of your future blockbuster is at the foundation of this methodology. The skill of creative analysis of customer experience with these products provides a detail road map to the future success.