Why traditional customer research is preventing organisations from becoming truly customer centric


Why traditional customer research is preventing organisations from becoming truly customer centric




Blog, Customer Centric Innovation

As a theme, Customer centricity has been around for decades; there are many existing mantras about “putting the customer first”, “the customer is king” and “moving the organisation from being product centric to being customer centric”. On the back of this, businesses, large and small, have invested heavily in researching customers and using this research to generate meaningful and useful insights into what customers need and value. But despite all the effort, success has been extremely limited.

Professor Clayton Astridtensen from Harvard Business School famously brought attention to this in his iconic HBR article when he stated “Thirty thousand new consumer products are launched each year. But over 90% of them fail—and that’s after marketing professionals have spent massive amounts of money trying to understand what their customers want”.

Why is this traditional “customer centric” approach to understanding customers not working? Customers don’t know what they need beyond telling researchers that they want what they already have – but they want it faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter and so on. The famous example of Henry Ford’s customers asking him to build a faster horse comes to mind!

The shift from customer centric to job centric

So if customers don’t know what they need, then how can organisations know what products to build that will create and capture value? The answer lies in ceasing to simply focus on customers and instead, to start focusing on the jobs that customers are trying to get done. To quote Astridtensen, “Customers hire products and services to get jobs done – and once you understand the job their trying to get done, designing the product or service becomes relatively straightforward”.

How well do you really understand the jobs your customers are trying to get done? Is your existing market research giving you genuine insights that create a 90% success rate and not a 90% fail rate for your new products and services? If you’d like to chat about how you can best uncover the jobs your customers are trying to get done, feel free to drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you!


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