We often face the challenge of how to design a better product/service,or how to communicate our promise so more people actually pay attention to us or buy our stuff.
 
Depending on the situation, getting insight for product development or for communication can be a huge issue or merely difficult. Adding to the challenge is that insighting for product development can be very different from insighting for positioning or communications.
 
By now, a whole library has been written by a largecrowd of authors, some very eminent and others less so, on positioning of brands. But the insighting process that takes the marketer or product developer to the end point has been a bit more wrapped up in mystique.
 
To be sure, there are probably dozens of ways to get insight. Some include a big bunch of market research.
 
And at the other end, there are people like Steve Jobs who famously said:“It’s not the business of consumers to know what they need”, effectively trashing the idea of doing market research insofar as the Apple Way was concerned.
 
Too bad for most of us, no one else has even approached Steve Jobs’ success in developing new products in as many different product categories. He was one of a kind. He almost walked on water.
 
Almost, that is, because he was not always successful. We know all about the iPad, the iPod, the iPhone and the iMac.
 
Butsome of his early products were only small successes or outright failures. Specifically, following the success of the Apple II, which arguably popularized the personal computer category, there were the much less inspiringApple III and the Lisa. Both those computers were difficult to call successes. And contributing to their lack of success was the messy product development process that Apple waded through, led by Steve Jobs and worsened by hisfiery temper.
 
In fact, he was later fired from Apple partly because of this. Fired from the very company he founded.
 
It was in later years, after he had learned more about his markets, and after he found more effective ways to use his personal strengths in the context of the Apple organization, that he met ginormous success after insanely great success. But none of it was easy on either him or the people who worked for him.
 
Being more ordinary people, we need some research on our target market to get insight into what to do.
 
In the product development process, just one common source of insight into what people will want is simply by getting direct personal exposure to your target market. Direct exposure while they decide what to buy, how they buy, how they use your product or products in your category. Meaning you observe them while a number of them do all of that.
 
At times, it can be convenient and better to get your target market to use your product in your laboratory or the like. Maybe so you can better record how they use your product.
 
But it is usually better to do this under normal conditions in the places where the target consumer usually uses the product or service,because there are often things or considerations that are present there, in the usual places of consumption or usage, which we do not fully appreciate and which even the consumer may overlook if you asked them. It may be because they take these things for granted, and because for many of them, the products involved (maybe your products) just are not so important that they would manage to remember everything about how to use them.
 
But when you put them in their homes, or wherever they use your product normally, and allow them to use the product on their own terms, then they remember what to do and what you expect them to do. But sometimes, they also do things that are very surprising, which may lead you to later ask them, “Why did you do that?”
 
It could be the beginning of a beautiful insight - and a bigger business.
 
Many globally successful companies do this. If you are not doing it, it’s time to try it.
 
Benedicto “Poch” Cid is the chief brand adviser of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines.  For inquiries, please email info@mansmith.net call (+63-2) 584-5858 /412-0034 or text (63) 917-62-718-88 / 918-81-168-88. Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.