Market research is often criticized as being the “pessimistic arm” of marketing. We test ideas to try and make them stronger. We provide caution signs and provide “what if” scenarios. But sometimes we are known as the “idea killers” – the bad news guys that come in and say “launch at your own risk”.
It’s hard for us to absolutely predict though what will happen in “real life”. Often because something changes after testing – the price, the quality, the flavour, the shape, the brand, and just sometimes – the economy.
I have read in a few places recently that what has got the economy into the current state is optimism. That people were too optimistic that the market would turn and that YOY growth was something that was expected rather than hoped for.
But over the last few years I’ve been hearing from a lot from different people that times have been really tough – especially in FMCG. Higher interest rates and fuel prices mean less cash in the weekly wallet, so things don’t get into the shopping trolley as easily as before, or if they do they are bought on price (or even a few home labels slip in instead). And the more you talk to people the more you hear – business has been really tough for a while. The bottom hasn’t fallen out over night.
So there seemed to be something going on more akin to delusion than optimism. Optimism is hopeful and positive. Every day may be a little better than the last. That your life will be good, but bad things will come, and you’ll get through them. Delusion is where everything will be good, all the time, and everyone will be rich and have a pony.
So I’m optimistic that things will get better, but realistic to know that the next little while will be challenging. And I’ll keep testing your concepts, and give you constructive suggestions based on what people are telling us will make them better, and if your idea is a dog I’ll let you know that too. You can take that advice or not. My feelings are though, that over the next few years you may be listening closer to your customers a bit more than you have in a while.