Steve Jobs and Market Research

October 4, 2010

Steve Jobs said recently, “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want next, it’s mine”. Given the success of all things Apple, this made me wonder, do consumers not know what they want from a product? Are we merely on the receiving end of big ideas, waiting to change our lifestyle and habits based on clever brainstorming by big organisations?

          I can’t agree with Jobs completely on this one. If what he is saying is true across the board, then a lot of money, time and effort are being wasted each year on market research. In relation to focus groups, a recent blog post from Amárach pointed out that although someone may hold a certain opinion, they cannot always explain why. A lot of skill is required to uncover why someone thinks the way they do. A skilled moderator therefore plays a huge role in revealing what people want. Perhaps to the disappointment of Jobs.

          The role of advertising falls somewhere between guiding the consumer towards something new and responding to what they want. It does not ignore the beliefs that are held by a target audience about what they want to see in a given product or service. In fact, advertising often seeks to incorporate this knowledge into the message that is being communicated. Despite this, there is a huge need for creativity within the advertising world. With so many messages out there, advertisers must strive to be original and engaging if we want our message to stand out. It’s a careful balance between knowing the consumer, and giving them something new. Which is perhaps what Apple has been doing all along.



3 Responses to “Steve Jobs and Market Research”

  1. edfk said

    While I do agree that market research is important for the most part, and as much as I now dislike Mr. Jobs.

    Let us not forget the car made to the average person (Homer)’s desire

    People dont always not what they, or others really want

  2. John Clancy said

    Excellent reply ‘edfk’ – I was about to go find that reference and post it myself! Good post though Carly, agree, it’s about giving them what they want, whilst understanding that they don’t necessarily know what they want yet (as it may not yet exist)…

  3. furrytoes said

    The point of your post is nulled by assuming that Jobs believes this is “true across the board”.
    Of course what he’s saying is not true across the board – there’s no doubt Jobs knows that. But in the technology space where no one really knows how useful something could be, he’s undoubtedly right. The demand can and may have to be generated. And that’s his job.

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