Scott Antony, one of the Innovator’s Dilemma gurus, has a great post on how market research, if not done properly, can kill the innovation process within a company.
In essence he says that there are 4 ways to screw up innovation with market research – ask the wrong people, ask the wrong questions, have the wrong people interpret the data, and making the wrong decisions based on the data.
Does that resonate with your experiences? How many companies have you seen do market research to prove something which they have already taken a position on? And how many times have you seen companies do market research only within their existing customer base, even though they need 90% of all their future revenues to come from companies or people who never bought from them before?
Scott is right when he says that if done properly market research can be a powerful weapon – it just needs to be handled by pros who know what they are doing. Unfortunately, and in most cases, market research is done by amateurs who put out crappy surveys – or worse, pay you money to fill out those crappy surveys.