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.”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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