October 26 , 2006
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe that most of us, myself included, have tunnel vision when looking at ways of conducting research. During the past week, while cleaning out my files, I came across a few interesting papers relating to New Opportunity Exploration. Following are some of the concepts relating to searching for new opportunities.
"Marketers are still thinking in terms of products and ever-finer demographic segments." Marketers have lost the forest for the trees, focusing too much on creating products for narrow demographic segments rather than satisfying needs. The structure of a market, as seen from the customer's point of view, is very simple. When people need to get a job done, they hire a product or service to do it for them. The marketer's task is to
understand what jobs exist and how well are they being fulfilled."
"From the Harvard Business Review article titled 'Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure,' A marketer's job is to understand the job the consumer wants to get done. In other words, the job, not the consumer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that consumers will purchase".
Knowing how to improve a product does not come from understanding the "typical" consumer, it comes from understanding the job. Why do so many marketers try to understand the consumer rather than the job?
(Thought: It is because it is easier. You focus on a group of consumers. If it is the job, you don't have a person to talk to but an action to study. You have to locate the job before you can study it. It's easy to find consumers but not the job.)
This above thought brought back memories of early work on the brand, Attends, an adult disposable brief. In designing this product, we felt it necessary to put ourselves in the consumer's place. To us, that meant wearing the briefs and soiling. That was really focusing on the job. That was putting yourself in the consumer's shoes, or should I say briefs? It also brought to mind a very important P&G method called "Expert Director Test."
"Rather than looking at how well the user likes the brand, first, determine how well the product lives up to its promise as a solution to the need . . . Products are not sold because of the user, they are sold because of the need."
What does this all mean to me? It means that there are methods of obtaining a deeper understanding about what it takes to develop successful consumer products. They are through the understanding of the job itself. The marketer's need to spend more time understanding the job. It also means that more personal time must be spent on the solution. It is obvious to most marketers that more personal involvement is required, so why are they not spending the time? Market research groups are under-staffed and under-funded (and in some cases just plain lazy,) resulting in outsourcing.
Outsourcing reports usually result in summary data focusing on the "typical" consumer which leads us back to square one.
For example, what are the deficiencies of the "typical" consumer research. Lets say I'm interested in the detergent category. The agency supplies me with a report that says 22% of the population wants a better cleaning detergent. But where do I start? Do I want a better particulate (soil) removal, a better oil base soil removal, improved whiteness maintenence, brighter colors, or even better fabric odor? Each attribute can be associated with cleaning and each attribute requires identification and a different approach to a solution. Is this what we call "job security"?