[caption id="" align="alignright" width="160" caption="Image via CrunchBase"]
Have you heard the “Jobs Excuse”? When someone introduces a bad idea with “well Steve Jobs says” or “…just like Apple…”. It’s an old name dropping game that hopes to make even horrid ideas sound good.
In the world of market research, we hear it most often through one popular quote from Mr. Jobs: “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (BusinessWeek, May 1998)
You have to read this quote carefully because what it says is:
- Focus groups aren’t good places to design products.
- Only you know what’s possible thru technology
- People can’t project ahead to tell you what to build.
He is absolutely right. Far too often, focus groups are asked to answer things consumer participants don’t know and can’t imagine. It’s an exceptionally poor use of research. In advertising, this type or research often asks consumers to decide the colors used in ads or to project what a finished ad might look like based on storyboards or sketches (it’s hard enough for experts to do that – much less consumers). In the extreme, it can even lead to