In The Simpson’s second season episode “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Homer is given a job at Powell Motors by his half-brother Herb. With their cars losing ground to foreign competitors, Herb believes his company has lost sight of what their customer’s want and asks for Homer’s help to design a car that would appeal to the ‘average’ American. Despite the protestations of his employees, Herb encourages Homer to follow his instincts. The high cost to develop the car and the high purchase price ultimately leads to Powell Motors going out of business.
Literally giving your customers what they want can be risky, especially if they aren’t exactly sure what they mean. Ignoring them altogether is just plain suicidal.
In Homer’s case, when he says that he wants a car with two bubbles; one in the front, while the one in the back is for quarreling kids, and comes with optional restraints and muzzles; all he is really saying is he ‘more privacy’.
The challenge for marketers is to translate what their customer’s are saying into workable insights that provide the basis for consumer-centric product designs that meet the needs of their customer’s.