Hal Varian

If you want to understand the future, just look at what rich people do today.

Sudeep Maitra

People are stuck between focus groups on the one hand and the Steve Jobs approach (“I will know what customers need before they know it themselves”) on the other. The Jobs way is compelling, but it’s risky. The challenge is the journey from today’s customer, whom most companies understand well, to tomorrow’s customer, whom they don’t.

Putting the Naysayers in the Spotlight

Early adopters get most of the attention from analysts and marketers, but focusing on consumers who are resistant to innovations is another way to bring new products to market.

8 Customer Discovery Questions to Validate Product Market Fit for Your Startup

During a typical customer research process, we will interview customers and might ask them questions like these. All of these questions are customer and product discovery questions, almost identical to the ones product managers use to understand if the company has unlocked product-market fit. In addition, these interviews surface insights about marketing positioning and true perception in the market; customer support effectiveness; overselling; and product … [ Read more ]

Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

More decisions today are impacted by what we call O sources of information — “Other” information sources, such as user reviews, friend and expert opinions, price comparison tools, and emerging technologies or sources — whereas market research measures P sources — “Prior” preferences, beliefs and experiences. What market researchers often underestimate, though, is the degree to which consumers have difficulty imagining or anticipating a new … [ Read more ]

Product Intelligence: Turning Online Reviews into Business Decisions

Online consumer feedback is growing exponentially and contains invaluable information about not only what consumers think of products and brands, but also about what they expect from a product. Some businesses view the vast amounts of online feedback about their products and services in a reactive light. Each positive review is a pat on the back that need not be investigated further; while each negative … [ Read more ]

Pay Attention To Your “Extreme Consumers”

What do Porsche fanatics, a video game hater, and a person who cooked two weeks’ worth of meals in a rice cooker have in common? They are all “extreme consumers”—those whose tastes are so out there that mainstream market researchers tend to dismiss them as “noise” when trying to figure out how typical consumers think.

That’s fine if you only want to keep making incremental improvements … [ Read more ]

The Customers You Do Not Want

If these “harbingers of failure” love what you do, you are in trouble.

Editor’s Note: This is one of the more interesting pieces of research I have read about in a while. Based on the work of Eric T. Anderson, Song Lin, Duncan I. Simester and Catherine E Tucker

Anthropology Inc.

Forget online surveys and dinnertime robo-calls. A consulting firm called ReD is at the forefront of a new trend in market research, treating the everyday lives of consumers as a subject worthy of social-science scrutiny. On behalf of its corporate clients, ReD will uncover your deepest needs, fears, and desires.

The ABCs of Analytics

“Big data” can drive competitive advantage if companies follow a few timeless principles.


In a multi-polar world—a volatile, interdependent, globalized marketplace where upstart rivals can emerge quickly from any corner—competitiveness at speed remains imperative. But many of the previous bases for competition are no longer viable. Companies offer mostly similar products and use comparable technology. Proprietary technologies can be copied quickly. Physical location matters less when customers use the Internet to search and transact.

What’s left as a … [ Read more ]

A New Way to Gain Customer Insights

How conjoint analysis, a tried-and-true market research tool, can be used to support organic growth.

A Sure Way To Know Customers Were Satisfied

There is a better way to determine how many—what portion—of your customers were satisfied. Time and again studies have shown that customer loyalty is fleeting for all but the most satisfied of customers, because any customer who is not “completely satisfied,” is dissatisfied to some degree, and/or with “something.” That “something” is the “crack in the door” through which competitors can sneak and steal your … [ Read more ]

Adrian Slywotzky, Karl Weber

It’s a funny thing about demand: There’s often a huge gap between what people buy and what they truly want and need. That gap is revealed by the Hassle Map—and that gap is where the opportunity to create huge new demand is hiding. There are various kinds of Hassle Maps. Some Hassle Maps are lists of the steps involved in a process, often including … [ Read more ]

The Art of Hassle Map Thinking

Let’s face it: All too often, life is a succession of hassles. There’s an endless array of frustrations, inconveniences, complications, disappointments, and potential disasters lurking in most of our daily experiences. Even very good products and services (we’ll call them simply “products” for simplicity’s sake) have their weaknesses and drawbacks. My new smartphone sometimes drops my calls; my favorite hotel chain sometimes loses my reservation; … [ Read more ]

7 Insanely Useful Ways to Search Twitter for Marketing

Twitter gets much more interesting and useful when you can filter out 99% of the junk that doesn’t apply to your objectives and focus on the stuff that matters.

The basic search.twitter.com functionality is fine for searching things that are being said about your search terms. The advanced search function offers more ways to slice and dice the stream, but still leaves some room for improvement … [ Read more ]

How to Identify and Avoid This Survey-Questionnaire Design Problem: Mixed-Mode Scales

Data from mixed-mode questions are hard, if not impossible, to interpret accurately.

The first part of this article will give an example of a mixed-mode question and an analysis of how to interpret the results that such as question would produce. As you will see, mixed-mode questions, or scales, should be avoided.

The second part of this article will explore the problem of mixed-mode scales further and … [ Read more ]

Tim Brown

There’s another thing that organizations often miss: They assume that the things you go out and study should be the things that are right in the middle of the market, so they talk to customers who are in the middle of the bell curve about the products that the company already makes. That’s usually the least useful form of observation. The most useful is to … [ Read more ]