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Market Research Assumptions – A Paradox?

Dare to assume during market research – a ridiculously risky thing to do!

You would maybe remember when Coca Cola brought out the ‘New Coke’ which was sweeter like Pepsi… They spent over $4 million developing the new product based on extensive market research using over 200,000 volunteers to blind taste the product. Even though a clear majority preferred the taste of the ‘New Coke’ during these tests, it was doomed to complete and utter failure.


They assumed.

They assumed that taste was the only reason people bought Coca Cola.


There was a huge loyalty and attachment globally to the ‘Coca Cola’ brand. The ‘New Coke’ was not recognised and thus was not accepted.

What could they have done better to have saved the $4 million and/or made it a roaring success?

Maybe to consider and thoroughly understand some of the following factors of good market research may have helped in this situation.

Regardless of the type of product, before building or researching around it, you need to understand and define the target audience according to their consumption behaviour. Therefore, some usage and attitude research with these key areas explored are necessary:

  • Consumption Behaviour: Understanding the usage frequency and typical consumption behaviour.
  • Purchase Behaviour: Understanding the purchase frequency and behaviour.
  • Attitude: Criteria that affect the decision-making process.
  • Brand Preferences: Observations on brands, earlier experience evaluation and positioning.
  • Brand Perception: Perception research on the specific brand or product.

This usage and attitude research give actionable insights to every company from an early stage start up to a global one. Now that the target audience is defined according to the results of the above, the company can move forward to Concept Testing. (Look out for the insights around this very soon) …

Now this Coca Cola failure happened way back in 1985. Surely this doesn’t happen today???

Oh yes it does… bring it right up to today…

Jamie Oliver restaurants…? Much blame is put on struggling retail markets and the well-known struggles of this industry…. So, what is the real reason?

There are many arguments but one that seems to prevail is that diners were expecting an experience that is consistent with the Jamie Oliver brand and personality that they recognise. Unfortunately, the consensus seems to be that the dining experience was inconsistent with the personality that they have come to love and that it was a high price to pay for what was just a restaurant serving Jamie Oliver recipes.

Some more comprehensive market research including the Usage and Attitude Research wouldn’t have gone amiss here. The research would have found that it is not just the recipes that consumers wanted… they also wanted the personality and brand to come through.

So, what is the answer here…

Outsource the market research to a company that really knows what they are doing!! Ask them what their research will include. Ensure that your investment is promised to be a huge success.



14 thoughts on “Market Research Assumptions – A Paradox?”

  1. This is why there are many myths of innovation as much as there are legit ones. Everything has a risk. That said, if I am gonna go into this I will hesitate as well. However, research and experience can fix that.

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