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.”

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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.
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