We live in a world where we are more connected than ever. We can pick up a phone and speak to family and friends on the other side of the world, video conference them or just update them on what’s going on in our lives. But it isn’t just friends we can contact. We can play online games with complete strangers, ask political leaders questions and join global movements. The Internet has enabled a human connectivity like never before. Conversations are happening on a global scale. They offer hope of greater connection, education and understanding.
But despite this connectivity, the vast majority of newly launched products and services fail – in fact some estimates are 95%.
Even the big boys get it wrong. Remember Microsoft’s Zune? And old established companies collapse, from Kodak to HMV. And perhaps most surprisingly, the success of advertising campaigns that have been through testing, still seems to be a matter of chance.
Part of the reason for these failures is that whereas the customers have fully embraced new digital platforms to connect and converse, companies are lagging behind. Many still see the likes of Twitter and Facebook as a way of pushing their product message. And of course, not all product questions are suitable for open forum. Companies need to find ways of using online platforms to have more authentic conversations with their audiences.
Market research is a multi-billion pound industry. Its aim is to support business decision making by finding out information on target markets and customers. But it does not seem to be preventing the failure of the vast majority of products and services. Even allowing for the fact that some of these launches will not have been supported by market research, something cannot be right. And I don’t buy the old Ford quote of “If I’d have asked the customers, they’d have requested a faster horse.” The problem is brands seem to produce a lot of asses.
The majority of the market research industry consists of quantitative research: in fact over 75%. This has seen an online revolution – from Survey Monkey to Google Consumer Surveys. Using such tools you can quickly and cheaply ask your audience questions. This is certainly useful. But to have authentic conversations with your audience, you need to look to qualitative research methods that ask why and how your audience makes decisions. This represents around 18% of the market research industry. And only 6% of qualitative research is currently carried out online (Esomar Report 2013). There is a big opportunity here.
Through the use of mobile devices, video and the ability to communicate simultaneously in multiple languages, questions can be asked of audiences any time, any place and anywhere. Authentic feedback on proposed products and services can be gained closer to the point of decisions and in the natural environment of those decisions.
Liveminds offers this capability to brands, businesses and organisations. It builds online research communities that make the best use of the desire for customers to spend their time online. And all this with the affordability online platforms provide. No wonder it is gaining momentum. That’s why I joined their Advisory Board. The world of market research is prime for major disruption. And I want to be part of it.
Martin Talks, @talksy
P.S. And if you want to see more classic product failures, click here.