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Market Research Failure - What goes wrong and Why

They say - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. They also say - Wrong insights are worse than no insights!

Let me first explain the context of the first popular proverb - Coca Cola once famously spent millions developing a product that was meant to be "better than the original Coke". Then they spent even million more marketing and trying to sell that product only to realise just how unaccepting the market really was. What people wondered more is not why people did not accept it, which ofcourse later became apparent indeed that the brand's loyal consumers had an emotional connection with the old taste, but rather why it failed despite significant investment in market and consumer research?

One of the most common and widely accepted answers is that Coca Cola framed the questions wrong - they did not ask the consumer if they would "accept this new drink as an alternative to the old Coke", rather the survey revolved around "whether the drink tasted nice or not". Comparative market research is often the key to several consumer studies - the VS question!

One of the most common mistakes that lead to market research, and eventually business, failures is the lack of context for the question. Moreover, often researchers conduct studies very scientifically but they forget a critical aspect of consumer preference - the emotional connection!

In which case a wrong insight can lead to disastrous sales consequences. 

Another critical aspect to keep in mind while researching is "external decision makers and influencers".

The best example for this would a Calvin Klein marketing push where models in extremely exposing undergarments were shown across the United States. The market research was conducted on teenagers and girls and guys in early 20s. This ofcourse resulted in an insight that was screwed from the beginning because they forgot to ask the parent!

Yes, parental guidance "stripped" Calvin Klein of millions of Dollars in investments because they did not ask them what they thought about their kids dressing up in exposing cloths or advertising under garments with near-nudity. The fall out was indeed catastrophic.

In other words, while asking is great for business, asking the right audience and asking the right question is what takes the day!


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