What if we listen to Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs

Very frequently, I hear people comment -including those who are informed about the topic- that “Steve Jobs did not believe in market research” and that he never considered consumers’ opinions to make decisions, develop products or understand markets. You have probably heard similar comments.

If Jobs was a common person, I would not worry about his opinion regarding the professional activity to which I have dedicated most of my life. But it’s not possible to ignore what has been said by one of the most admired business of our times: the creator of Apple Computer in his house garage; the great innovator behind the Macintosh and computer animated movies (Pixar), as well as other products and services, such as iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, iTunes Store and App Store.

Now, what Jobs really said is that he had never relied on market research as a tool to develop the products that consumers need. He claimed that “they don’t know what they need until we show it to them”. Thus, he said the job of an innovator is to “decipher what consumers will need even before they need it”, which implies having the ability to “read things that are not yet written”.

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Research online: the future is here

Investigación online

Some time ago, I visited my good friend Guillermo Gallardo, and as we talked about the current situation of market research, he claimed that today what is most important in the research industry is the development and use of online platforms. Although he didn’t say anything new to me, his absoluteness made me realize that the future has reached us.

We are all witnesses of the great change that the Internet has had in our lives and our societies. It has provided immediate access to an amount of information that we had never dreamed of and has brought about new ways of communicating and interacting. But although not all people are aware of this, it has also brought new ways of doing research, with new alternatives at our hands.

In quantitative research, this change has been quite fast. Globally, more online surveys are done online each day, with samples obtained through a panel provided by a supplier or taken from the client’s own database. With growing frequency, part of the information obtained through these surveys is obtained through the use of mobile phones.

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What really are consumer insights?

Consumer Insights

Consumer insights is a commonly used expression in research, marketing and publicity. But we must recognize that it is an ambiguous and unclear term. Each researcher, marketer or publicist defines it in a different way.

Some time ago, there was a discussion about the meaning of this term, precisely in a group called Consumer Insights Consumer Insights Interest Group on LinkedIn. Participants in the discussion, all of them researchers of the topic, proposed more than 20 definitions, as different among them as the following:

  • A new learning about consumer behavior which has the potential of making a brand or category grown.
  • An opportunity based on a solid conviction that leads to action.
  • The result of applying knowledge or theories to observation, with the purpose of understanding what would not be evident otherwise.
  • The truth, such as it happens in the mind of consumers.
  • A profound finding with consequences which were previously unknown.
  • A gut feeling; a message one feels but which is not rational at all.

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