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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Making Sure Market Research Asks the Right Question

Last week, Marka and the FEI tribe discussed two common characteristics of effective market research programs. This week, Marka explains a potential pitfall faced by many market researchers and how to avoid it. Remember, fire = print.

Marka stood before the FEI tribe holding a can of New Grog.

“I haven’t seen that drink in years,” Zoot remarked with amusement.

“I’ll get to this can in a minute,” Marka said. “Before beginning any market research initiative, we need to correctly define what we’re looking for. Without a solid cornerstone to build on, the information we uncover might add to the confusion rather than provide clear direction.”

“I don’t get it,” Zoot confessed.

“Let’s make it real,” Marka said, pointing to the can of New Grog. “Remember this product?”

“Sure do,” Zoot exclaimed. “Ten years ago, Grog Co. replaced its time-tested recipe with New Grog and consumers were up in arms. A few months later, Grog Co. admitted its mistake and brought back its old recipe as Grog Classic.”

“Exactly,” Marka said. “New Grog failed because Grog Co. market researchers framed the problem poorly. Grog Co. believed consumers were migrating to a Grog competitor’s taste and used research to confirm this. The results of blind taste-test focus groups favored New Grog, so marketing executives green-lighted the switch.”

“Grog Co. had forgotten Branding 101,” Zoot added. “Grog’s connection with consumers is more than just taste. There could’ve been many explanations for Grog Co.’s lackluster sales. Concentrating on taste seemed right, but it was wrong. Asking ‘How do we revitalize Grog’s brand in consumer’s eyes in order to boost its sagging profits?’ might have yielded a more successful research endeavor.”

“Grog Co. researchers didn’t adequately consider Grog’s existing brand strength and failed to ask Grog drinkers if they actually wanted a New Grog,” Org pointed out. “The result is that many loyal Grog-drinkers also rebelled against the new taste.”

“Yes,” Marka said. “Let’s not make the same mistake Grog Co. did. When researching potential business opportunities, we should ensure we’re asking the right questions that will help us solve the right problems. That may sound easier-said-than-done. But all it takes is a little business and marketing common sense to avoid this common research pitfall.”

“I’ll say,” Zoot said. “Hey, anybody want to head to Olympus Café for lunch? All of a sudden I’m thirsty for some Grog.”

Today’s FIRE! Point
Before beginning any market research initiative, printing companies will want to accurately define what information they’re seeking. When researching new business opportunities, make sure you’re asking the right questions in order to solve the right problems. That may sound easier-said-than done. But all it takes is a little business and marketing common sense to avoid this common research pitfall.

FIRE! in Action
Poor Framing of the Problem Can Lead to a Marketing Disaster

The famous marketing failure of New Coke was largely due to a failure to correctly set up the research problem. Though New Coke beat out old Coke in blind taste-tests, the real issue was how consumers felt about the Coke brand, not how they felt about the beverage’s taste by itself. After only three months marked by public backlash and mediocre sales, Coca-Cola scrapped New Coke and reintroduced the old recipe as Coke Classic. By the end of the year, Coke Classic was substantially outselling both New Coke and Pepsi.

Next week: The FEI tribe discusses the usefulness of customer-performance scorecards.

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