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Right-Wing Customers - The Enemy of Innovation

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Michael Beverland, Professor, Marketing, School of Management, University of Bath, UK


The customer, it seems, is not always right. Don't you think Coca-Cola tried New Coke out on customers to the nth degree before putting it out on the market to massive failure? Then there are endless stories of companies that defied customer expectations (Apple, Dyson) and still came out with a winner. Consumers are actually notoriously conservative. ""Customers can only comment on what they know,"" writes Michael Beverland, a professor of marketing at the University of Bath in the UK. ""Isn't it the job of the designer and marketer to come up with exciting product ideas that solve problems, make life better, and change the way we think of a category?"" At the same time, however, one can point to any number of design-driven innovations that also flopped spectacularly. So the question becomes: What is the best way to skirt both extremes and come up with a product everybody wants-that is grounded in the reality of the customer's world? The answer is market immersion, says Beverland, and he offers five simple strategies for getting there.




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