Identifying and satisfying NEEDS, WANTS and WISHES are the first three challenges for marketing research.
From the get-go research can and should determine if you’re adequately satisfying basic needs that consumers demand when buying your products and services. From there you can move to finding and addressing consumer wants…the ones that will build loyalty for your company or brands because you are providing added value.
Identifying wishes that consumers have that make your products and services unique from competition come next. Fulfilling wishes will move you into a leadership position and create additional opportunities that your competitors have yet to discover.
The fourth challenge for research is uncovering consumer DESIRES. A desire is differentiated from a need, want or wish in that consumers can neither express nor conjure that something is missing from their lives.
Do you think anybody desired an on-line auction site? Probably not, but EBay somehow identified a deep desire consumers had for new way to buy and sell all manner of products.
What about Miller Beer coming out with a lime and salt flavored beer? While it’s difficult to envision beer drinkers expressing a desire for such a product, Miller clearly thinks it will find marketplace success once consumers taste it.
There is big risk in introducing products and services where consumer research is unable to identify that a need, want or wish even exists in the marketplace. But fortunes are made from pursuing and satisfying unexpressed consumer desires. In point of fact, satisfying desires are the essence of an entrepreneurial economy…and the hardest job for market research to predict.
Was marketing research the inspiration behind Bill Gates founding and developing Microsoft or Jeff Bezos thinking Amazon.com was a better way to buy books? Did Thomas Edison have research to indicate the electric light bulb was a product whose time was near? Did research help George Halas envision the National Football League? What was behind those breakthroughs was the passion and belief of a committed individual, not the fodder of focus groups or surveys.
Marketing research is in the dark ages when it comes to finding and successfully predicting the next great consumer desire. The problem is that consumers desires are only identified in retrospect. That is, we can only know consumers will desire something once the desire is made real and workable?
When it comes to consumer desires, what research can do is support inspiration. It can help cast unfamiliar products, services and technological innovation in a friendly and approachable manner. It can identify the roadblocks to adoption of an idea. It can help quicken the pace of acceptance.
What marketing research cannot or should not be asked to do is pass judgment on whether strange or unfamiliar products or services will ultimately succeed. That, fortunately, will remain within the realm of all those crazy people who had the fortitude and funds to take the strange and make it familiar. And in doing so, reaping the rewards.