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May 5, 2011 / jasonpinto

Balancing Market Research and Social Framework


Hyper-Social Organization --- Book Cover

I recently had the chance to attend an AMA Boston event and listen to Francois Gossieaux speak.

After hearing his presentation, his book – The Hyper-Social Organization: Eclipse Your Competition by Leveraging Social Media– has absolutely shot to the top of my reading wish-list.

While heading into the event, I absolutely expected to hear 45 minutes of case studies about companies that have successfully incorporated social media into their business. Now, he certainly did share some great examples in that vein. But primarily, Francois focused on the importance of understanding our customers and prospects as humans — of truly knowing what makes them tick.

Only then can our marketing efforts truly prove successful.

Blue Chips and White Lies

Francois shared a story that absolutely made an impact on me. Here is a recap:

Before changing their food menu, Jet Blue launched a campaign. They were seeking to gather feedback from passengers as to what types of food they’d want available to them when traveling on a flight.

Well, the researchers conducted surveys and collected feedback from across the country. They interviewed passengers of all ages. Overwhelmingly, people answered that they wanted “healthier options” on Jet Blue’s food menu.

So, Jet Blue listened. They revamped their menu with a focus on offering healthier foods and they cut back on how many “bad” snacks were carried during each flight.

Guess what happened when the flight attendants starting taking people’s orders from the new menu? The customers did not want the healthy choices. They wanted the bad stuff! “Where are the double-chocolate chip cookies? How could you possibly run out of chips?” — these were the responses now being heard by Jet Blue employees.

Why Charts and Graphs Alone Are Not Enough

This story truly can serve as a lesson for marketing departments everywhere.

After conducting a market research survey, we may be easily swayed when we start viewing the results. I mean, honestly, who hasn’t felt goose-bumps after seeing answers presented in a 3D pie-chart before? 🙂

However, because we as humans lie to ourselves on occasion (“of course I’m the type of person that wants to eat healthy!”), the answers we provide to surveys may also be less than truthful.

Thus, as companies, we must balance market research with an understanding of the human/social framework of our prospects and customers.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Cheri Allbritton / May 5 2011 11:58 am

    Wow! Very interesting! I would have loved to see the piece they used to gather the information…fill in the blank, multiple choice food groups, specific selections yes or no? This certainly tells me if you want an exact answer you need to offer up specifics in the hope of getting more accurate responses.

  2. jasonpinto / May 5 2011 12:00 pm

    Cheri, I absolutely agree — the format of the survey certainly can play a big role in how truthful and helpful the answers you receive actually are.

    Thank you for that comment!

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