Why don't I like asking consumers questions? Because I've been exposed to almost forty years of the best and brightest market researchers at companies from Procter & Gamble to Pizza Hut who ask questions. In all that time, the answer to every question only reconfirmed things we already knew - basically reinventing the wheel, which, if I was to focus on advertising is why so much advertising bores or desensitizes us. I found that no one could ask a question they didn't already know the answer to. When new generations of managers asked questions at these companies it was so they could learn everything again for the first time. In companies like Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago, I've actually seen senior client service executives collect, secret and destroy the work of predecessors to protect their current position from better answers found before their time. I found that when you ask questions, you don't get the voice of the consumer, you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked - a form of bias that has led companies from General Mills to General Motors astray, or at least slowed or reduced their innovation return on investment. The root of all this doom and gloom? The fact that none of this question-asking ever stimulated respondent's minds - be they client or consumer - so that they could respond in surprising ways beyond their current frames of reference to hasten the pace of successful innovation and generate a consistent stream of important new disruptive technology and manufacturing patents and consumer new product concepts. So where's the beef? That is, where is the answer found? In processes that proactively stimulate consumer and client minds rather than those methodologies that reactively collect and measure data. In processes that create new knowledge, rather than in those that pre-ordain and then sell syndicated or predefined trends (i.e. Cocooning - let's write a book as a self proclaimed guru then go sell the answer to everyone so they can pull the trigger at a target at point blank range and go nowhere) data such as the existence of new subcultures of our population such as Thrivals or Basics or Adventurers - all those psychobabble social and behavioral target audience definitions that have put the brakes and blinders on so many brands by limiting their appeal through their contrived application (i.e.: Type A Strivers shilling for Cadillac). Or all those touchy-feeley product design firms who observe the here and now creating new Swiffers that do nothing more than replace old mops and refrigerators. Making the old look new. That's not innovation.
What do Folgers, Pampers, Tylenol, Coca-Cola and many other products all have in common?
Me! I perform extreme product makeovers for global marketing leaders: the world's top C-suite and line management teams dealing in products and categories with flat, stagnant or declining sales, delisted or new products and line extensions.
When's the time to perform an EXTREME PRODUCT MAKEOVER? Whenever someone notices product or category sales are slipping.
Course graduates Folgers, Pampers and Tylenol became "billion dollar" (US sales) CPG product lines. (Single lines that sell $1+ billion not brands of many lines). Others followed. Our least successful grad, Baked Lays sold $310 million in 10 months. To date, no one else in the US $2.4 trillion consumer package good industry has launched a single more successful product (Source: IRI).
Are your product or category sales slipping?