Thursday, July 17, 2008


Did you know that the New York Times is written at an elementary school level? That's because that's the average intelligence level of an adult in America today. They've already forgotten more than they've learned simply because they don't use it every day. And for that reason the muscle gets flabby and weak. Have you ever actually seem a contestant win the Jeff Foxworthy game show Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? Not in my memory. So why are you entrusting the future growth of your business or brand to the input and responses of Americans? To Americans who answer the countless questions and who provide the user-generated input solicited by corporations? Even worse, the use of online research where companies get panelists to respond for points and prizes. You can't even look them in the eye to see if they're telling the truth! Smarter people would only respond for cash! Obviously the airlines, Starbucks and General Motors are listening, and look at the results. And that's the problem. No one is creating new knowledge to take your fifth grade customers to the next level - the level where you want them to be.

By creating new knowledge that has never previously existed to be gathered and measured you could gain a proprietary advantage over rivals and markets in the areas of strategic innovation, consumer insight and new product concept development to invigorate struggling brands and businesses. Does anyone actually think that recipe dissemination, a few novelty fro-yo beverages, closing a thousand stores and a website that does not give consumers the latitude to respond beyond their current frames of reference is going to solve Starbuck's problems? (every question or category in which to respond mimics a store as it exists today. How is starbucks to improve if the existing model is the baseline? All that can be expected are very small incremental...not even evolutionary steps. And that's not the material of a turnaround.) Why create new knowledge? Because no matter how hard you study the past, by asking consumers and customers questions, it can never tell you all you need for the present. How would you expect them to respond? They can only respond within their current frames of reference within long established habits and practices. Without the stimulation required to identify new product potentials and the bigger consumer persuasions beyond, companies have no recourse but to look for bailouts and new merger and acquisition suitors as solutions. That's strike 1,2 and 3 against inbound organic growth. No forward-thinking, outward-looking executives here. Just Pavlov's respondents running large businesses. Knowledge creation is why our clients hit more home runs in more categories than any other.
What's wrong with struggling companies and brands? They know everything there is to know about their business...and nothing new.

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