It’s also what is causing such a crisis of confusion and failed companies when surveys and focus groups are leaned on too much.
UXMyths wrote a fascinating article on “Myth #21: People can tell you what they want” which cites numerous references and research done on the subject. The major revelation is, introspection is difficult to perform because we’re the most biased information source.
The articles refers to such catastrophe products as the Aeron chair and New Coke which took customer input too literally.
So are survey’s entirely useless? Not at all. Great marketing just requires knowing how to ask better questions and interpreting the answers in a way that leads to real insights.
For instance, with New Coke, the revelation was that the taste tests were ultimately flawed. They were only ‘sip’ tests and in that yes New Coke won over old Coke. However, New Coke was super sweet and having a large glass was too much sweetness, making the old Coke much more popular for anyone wanting more than a sip. The test and the results were misinformed and not thorough enough. If you haven’t heard of New Coke before, there’s a reason.