Don’t fence me in…
In this month’s issue of Visions magazine the owners of the stage-gate(R) trademark take a look at ideation. They conducted a survey to find the most used and most effective customer research methods.
Few details are provided about the survey, but as noted in a previous post, one would assume that there would be a natural bias: an NPD manager might feel stupid admitting that his most used tools really aren’t all that effective. Tom Wolfe recently said that it is fun to read autobiographies because they are personal and “like Wikipedia–some of the statements might even be true.” A pet theory of mine is that survey respondents have main three goals, in order of importance they want to: (1) look smart, (2) tell you what you want to hear, and (3) tell some truth.
I was impressed that, although little used, ethnography was found to be the most effective tool, although as noted in the earlier post there are some methodological issues with this also.
I believe that there are problems with all of the other results. The authors find “Voice of the Customer” tools to be very effective. However they include tools such as focus groups, which Griffin and Hauser (as well as 40 years of other research) showed to be ineffective and did not include 1:1 interviews which was the primary tool suggested in the VOC article.
I would recommend skipping the Visions article and instead finding a copy of the original Griffin and Hauser VOC paper (1993 Marketing Science). Or in its longer, working paper version it is available online:
I will devote a future post to an overview of the VOC article.
For a short discussion of how P&G freed itself from using Focus Groups and moved to true VOC methods: