Monday, May 2, 2011


Grumble, Grumble, I wish….
Last weekend, I got a call from a friend of mine who works with an advertising agency. He was conducting a workshop for his client who was an established player in the telecom sector and his agenda was to help them identify new product opportunities through a “new ideas” session. He mentioned the “six hats “ of De Bono and the like. I then remembered a session I had attended in 1992 at Mumbai (then Bombay) which was taken by Mr. Pranesh Mishra, who was the head of Pathfinders India at that time. He had covered a variety of research techniques including new product identification. The technique he had recommended was simple and effective enough for me to remember after two decades.
The “Grumble, Grumble” technique:
Most corridor conversations in office are sometimes grumble, grumble sessions with people grumbling about everything that makes them unhappy and the more intense it is the quicker it moves up the “grumble” chart and the more widespread it is the more the number of people who grumble about it. Taking this to research, respondents in focus groups and one –on –one interviews are asked to grumble about a product that is in discussion. For example “grumble, grumble, my soap gets soggy after a while” is an example. “grumble , grumble my cellphone  battery goes off too fast” or “grumble, grumble, my network connection goes off in the middle of a conversation”. These are clearly articulated needs of consumers which are unmet and which needs to be reengineered by the marketer through product and service augmentation. Sometimes these may result in completely new product initiatives.  If not corrected it offers a competitor a clear opportunity and a gaping hole in the armor from where he can launch an attack. In India a low cost brand called “Nirma” which was galloping away with increased volumes and market share was stopped dead in its tracks when a grumble session done by its competitor ( unilever)revealed that the detergent was so strong it left the users hands with blisters. Unilever immediately counter –attacked with its own low cost product WHEEL, which promised a strong clean with no damage to hands with a clear negative reference to its competitor NIRMA ( Mene mangi this safai, tune di hathon ki jalan?- I asked for cleanliness and you gave me blisters?).” Captain Cook”, another brand in India, launched its branded salt on the platform of “free flowing  salt“ when its research revealed a grumble of “sticky salt” among the users of its key competitor “ Tata Salt”.
The I wish  I had…Technique
Most girls, if they met with a “fairy God mother”  would give her a wish list. Not quite unlike Cindrella. Santa Claus would be too childish for them and the wish list would not be toys.  Mills & Boon the publisher of romantic novels came out with its carefully formatted novels which catered to a specified “wish list” of many young women with regard to their idea of a life partner, married life and romance, which was in the realm of “possible fantasy”. The tall , dark, handsome stranger with immense wealth and means, who would choose her over glamorous and even immoral women who threw themselves at him and with whom they would happily  raise a family and enjoy the “good life”!!
The same technique applied in research, when focus groups are given mood boards or stimuli related to the product and asked to make a wish list could result in insightful responses that could lead to product augmentation, new product (line extensions) ideas or even brand extensions.
The introduction of the walkman would have clearly come about as a consequence of someone wishing that he could listen to music “he/she wanted to listen to, when on the move without depending on the whims and fancies of a radio host”. Similarly the concept of an ATM would have been the response to millions who would have immediate and easy access to their savings account money  on their wish list.
There are many other techniques that go with these including word associations, role playing, story completion exercises and tactics that Nuero Linguistic Programming people use to identify neural maps  (pictures generated by the sensory nerves) that people have of products and services.
I think this will suffice for now.

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