New American Dream?


Last week we heard a story on the radio how IKEA was doing research – no, not about the furniture, but about what defines the American Dream. It happens that Americans care more about quality of life than accumulating possessions, and the American dream is more about experiences than owning things. This is a profound insight.

Although the research results may seem like bad news for a company like Ikea, a well-known purveyor of low-cost home furnishings, but that’s not how Ikea sees it.  By understanding what their customers want out of life, Ikea can position itself accordingly.  For example, many of the experiences customers seek take place in the home–holiday gatherings with extended family, movie nights with the kids, backyard marshmallow roasts on a chilly fall evening.  While Ikea can’t sell experiences, it can sell products that enable these experiences:  large tables and comfortable chairs for family gatherings, comfortable sofas for movie night, and outdoor furniture for marshmallow roasts.  By positioning its products as a means to achieve the desired experiences, Ikea can more effectively connect with its customers.

Every company should strive to understand their customers better. Companies that prioritize in-depth knowledge of their customers are making a sound investment in their future.

No matter the size of your company, we can customize a research plan to help you understand your customers’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

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Millennials and Gen Xers Aren’t As Different As You Think!

Last time we left you in suspense as Tara and I were visiting the home of a millennial family.  Through our work during the past year, we have learned that Millennials and Generation Xers aren’t as different as you might think!

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How to Better Understand Your Customers: The Power of Ethnography

On a damp November morning, we pull up to a townhouse in Silver Spring, Maryland, double-checking the address to make sure we have the right house. We huddle on the small porch amidst the damp leaves until our research participant, Chris, opens the door.

Before Chris can say hello, a giant black Labrador rushes to greet us. Chris walks us through the living room, dotted with toddler toys, to the dining room table where we take a seat and set up our equipment. The interview hasn’t even started, yet we have already learned a lot about Chris and his family.

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What if the future of innovation lies in the past?

When I was a kid, reruns of the Jetsons were the epitome of future imaginings.  Basking in the glow of the Space Age, the Jetsons promised us food that cooked itself, spaceships instead of cars, and conveyor belts that obviated the need for walking (the Jetsons were remarkably slim given their lack of exercise). The world envisioned by the creators of the Jetsons has failed to materialize, but the sharp contrast between the real and imagined future is instructive because it reveals a deep-seated assumption about progress that impedes our best efforts to be innovative.

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While wandering around the grocery store …

I noticed something different while wandering around the grocery store the other day. It’s a detail thing (I’m a computer guy – spending time on details comes with the territory); a specific part of a specific product: milk. In particular, how milk is presented at the store.

The store nearest us just finished a significant remodel. And as part of that, the milk cartons and bottles and such moved. The milk used to be available from one of the open cases – you know, the ones that are just shelves, back in the cold part of the store, with nothing between you and the cartons. Read more

Can Shopping for a Bathing Suit Get Any Worse? Evidently, It Can

I wonder if the inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll, from which the name of the eponymous women’s swimsuit was derived, have any idea the marketing nightmare the name “bikini” has wreaked on women’s swimwear. Men, you may want to sit down for this—it’s going to get a little complicated, and I assure you that by the time you finish reading, you’ll thank your lucky Speedos you don’t have to buy women’s swimwear.

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