Is R&D carrying the can for Marketing on Hidden Needs?

4 10 2010

Keith Goffin wrote:

I have recently met with a number of companies that want a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs. We are actively researching Hidden Needs and our new book on this ‘Identifying Hidden Needs: Creating Breakthrough Products’ will be published on October 8th.

What’s interesting is the apparent reluctance of marketing departments to test new methods for market research. R&D departments seem keen to learn and apply techniques such as ethnographic market research and rep grid analysis, but marketing executives seem to view new approaches as a threat. It’s almost like some marketing executives view knowledge on customer needs to be their ‘turf’ and don’t want to look outside their market research comfort zone.

Now that we have recognized this barrier, it’s really helping with our discussions with companies. R&D departments are often saying things like “we develop products to meet the customer needs as specified by marketing but the resulting innovations don’t really capture customer’s imagination – so we want to try a different approach”. So it is the R&D departments that are currently more active in driving innovation. When will the marketers catch on?

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