Discovering Wishes–The Third Challenge for Research


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If you ask consumers in the right way what they WISH you would do to make their lives easier, better, more fun, more interesting or even more worthwhile they’ll talk your head off. The problem is not an abundance of ideas but where you should focus your efforts in order to enjoy the greatest sales and profits.

Consider the IPod. Once perfected, Apple could listen successfully to consumer WISHES and turn its attention to extending the line by introducing more fashion oriented colors. Or having first proven it was the premier fluid replacement drink for athletes, Gatorade could increase sales by listening to consumer WISHES for new flavors. And who would WISH Bank of America could help them grow their IRA account if they consistently sent out checking account statements that contained errors?

Its enticing to think beyond the basics and to uncover WISHES consumers might have. Doing so can point to potential trends in the marketplace and new income streams. But to let your research push you into marketing and product moves before you’re ready can be an expensive disaster.

It never seems as glamorous to focus on satisfying consumer NEEDS and WANTS before moving to their WISH list, but it is essential in establishing a permanent foothold in the market. Furthermore, once you effectively deliver the closer in essentials that will make your business profitable, you will be far more successful in addressing consumer WISHES.

Products and services exist to satisfy consumer needs, wants, wishes, desires and emotions. Effective marketing research should uncover the essential consumer needs and wants you must first address to have long term success…and it should provide a score card for how effective you are at the basics.

The next challenge is for research is to uncover the consumer WISHES you should consider for stretching the reach of your business, and to rank order the ones that will produce the greatest return for your money.

Bob Kaden
The Kaden Co.
Bob Kaden is the author of Guerrilla Marketing Research and president of The Kaden Company, a marketing research consultancy that works with clients in planning and applying research to make more money. He is a frequent lecturer and trainer in the areas of creativity and marketing research processes.


  1. Hello Mr. Kaden,

    I haven’t exactly read your book on Guerrilla Marketing Research. And I’m not sure whether it explains in more detail the research challenges you outlined here. I don’t have much problem distinguishing between needs and wants. However, I’m a bit lost here in the 3rd and 4th challenges–wishes and desires. How exactly do we know that we’re not interchanging one from the other? And if we are, what makes the differentiation between the two important in the research process? Do customers really care whether you know their wishes and desires, let alone differentiate them? How can we practically listen to these wishes and desires in a quantifiable way to properly justify our next chosen step in improving our products and services? Thanks.


  2. Thank you for your comment. I would ask you to read the blog on The Fourth Challenge for Marketing Research–Determining Desires. It should clarify the differences between uncovering consumer wishes vs. uncovering consumer desires.

    In regard to customers caring whether we as marketers uncover or differentiate wishes or desires, most customers don’t give it much thought unless asked…and asked in the right setting and context. But for a marketer to be successful it had better think about it religously. That is my point here.

    Quantifying wishes and desires is not particularly difficult once they are uncovered and then described in a concept, storyboard or other type of depiction. Ideas for new products or services can then be shown to consumers in a framework that allows them to envision the idea and rate their interest. Using controls of previously successful and unsuccessful products or services is always helpful when attempting to justify the financial risks of moving ahead.

    Please feel free to ask questions or make additional comments should you wish elaboration.


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