Are you looking for consensus or inspiration?

Over the past couple decades it seems we’ve evolved our market research practices to weed out respondents with extreme biases.   We don’t want to include anyone in our research who rejects our product or uses too much of it. We don’t want anyone who is too shy or too talkative. Too young or too old. Too savvy or too inexperienced. We go to extreme lengths to capture the opinions of the “average” customer. However, now more than ever, it’s the biased customer - not the average customer - that is driving our businesses.

Morgan Spurlock was biased. He would have never met the focus group criteria. But his film perhaps changed how McDonald’s does business moreso than any other piece of consumer research that company conducted over the past 50 years.

Marketers who try to eliminate biases from their research are sacrificing inspiration for consensus.

Each marketer has to ask themselves this key question: Would I rather hear one uniform opinion from eight identical people or eight different opinions from eight different types of people?

To truly come up with innovative solutions and ideas, we need to find mechanisms for harvesting diverse viewpoints.