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On Marketing:: Research & Consumer Satisfaction

“… especially in today’s idea-based, design-obsessed economy … innovation calls for variation, failure, and serendipity” (Hindo). Our lives, as humans, may be categorized as a collection of needs. Though each individual’s needs are unique in their own respect, whether be it in time or essence, they do bare traits of resembles with the needs of the 6.8 billion people on this planet. Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 hierarchy of needs theory, stated that a human need can be classified in one of five categories; each addressing defined, non-overlapping, human necessities. What marketers spend most of their time doing, is influencing consumer wants, which are “specific objects that might satisfy the [preexisting] needs” (Kotler and Keller, p.52). The more compelling the influencing is, the more successful the marketing campaign, and underlying product/service. Given the myriad marketing campaigns that consumers get bombarded with on daily basis, an exceptional marketing campaign must be truly innovative to standout and demand attention. Professor Stephen Brown of Ulster University states that spending too much time on research and consumer satisfaction during marketing will kill innovation; there needs to be an element of surprise or inventiveness. “Research can be very helpful in deciding what to do, but not in determining how to do it” (Foltz)

Examples are abound of companies that push the innovation envelope; whether be it with their products/services, or marketing campaigns. Google, Apple, Nike and Whirlpool are but a few firms that define their domain. These companies are on an everlasting marketing crusade, to tap into the emotional psyche of consumers, to justify their product offering. Doing so requires knowledge of consumer needs coupled with innovation. Marketers want to instill in the minds of consumers that the marketed products/services provide the highest possible value; thus being the logical choice when consumers rationalize which product/service to select. Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, defined the innovative spirit best when describing how their company have set themselves apart “with imaginative games” (Levine) and redefined gamer interaction. Capitalizing on that, through marketing, have placed Nintendo in the number one spot of Businessweek’s World’s Best Companies for 2009.

Though, let’s not forget that “finding that Holy Grail of marketing, the ‘unmet need’ of a consumer, remains elusive. You need time, just thinking time, to step out of the day to day to see what’s going on in the world and what’s going on with your customers” (businessweek). As important as innovation is, if consumer relevance is not present in the marketing, the underlying product/service will be a failure. At the end of the day, the marketing efforts are but a handshake gesture extended to the consumer in meeting their needs; it must provide them with value in order to be accepted. Understanding the consumer will effectively mean researching and satisfying the market segment that is being targeted. When Nokia wanted to position itself as the leader of low-cost mobile phones in the emerging markets [China, India, etc.], they needed to understand how “illiterate people live in a world full of numbers and letters” (businessweek); and thats how their all-iconic interface, made up of only images, was born. When companies put a sincere effort in understanding what their customers want, they will be able to trigger their satisfiers [factors causing satisfaction – as Frederick Herzberg defines them], and ultimately stimulate sales.

Where does this make us stand on the issue of research and consumer satisfaction in regards to marketing: does it kill or stimulate innovation? It is a universal law, that anything used in excess, will do more harm than good. Research and consumer satisfaction will deliver products and services that are more relevant to the consumer needs. On the other hand, progress is only brought about by exploring unchartered territories through offering and marketing new products/services. This is what ultimately defines a given product’s/service’s points-of-difference; seperating it from other competing offerings. Marketers must finely balance their innovation efforts, as they are curving their market-share slice.

~ Youssef Aboul-Naja

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  1. Wassim A. N.
    January 24, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Good Article. There are two typo omissions or mistakes

    1. “there needs to (BE is missing) an element of surprise or inventiveness”
    2. “Though, lest (I think it should be LET’s) not forget

    Regards

    • January 24, 2010 at 8:25 AM

      Corrections noted. Thank you.
      Glad you enjoyed the article.

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