The most common question between all companies operating in many markets is: how to make our customers happy – it is a synonymous of how we can make more profit, and this is the biggest mistake companies do when dealing with their customers.

This approach/question leads to trying to make the perfect product or service that sells – but there is no such a thing as a platonic product or service, but rather perfect products and services.

Market research as a tool has been utilized to understand what customers want companies to offer, how to make the products or services better, or even how to price the products and services to match with the customer’s variable purchasing powers.

The only problem is that customers usually don’t know what they want – companies try to ask many questions about the perfect product or service that can be introduced; what makes the customers happy, what can be offered of products and services that can allow capturing more market share – it’s a myopic question which only leads to more competition rather than innovation.

If we examined a company called Burt’s Bees, we will understand that when they thought of their products and services they focused more a customer want for a specific product “lip-balms”, renovated the way the product is being produced, and ultimately changed the want to a need for that product.

Burt’s Bees were trying at the beginning to ask their customers through hours and hours of focus groups, how would you like our lip-balms to look like, what type of tastes would you like them to be, when do you usually use lip-balms and why?

The answers to these questions were various, but the common indirect idea between all the customers that lip-balms of chemical materials damaged the lips of the customers after many times of usage – it doesn’t matter which taste did the lip-balm have, they like to use lip-balms specially in the summer time, but the chemicals had an after effect on the lips.

Burt’s Bees took this indirect common concept and transformed it into a product: Burt’s Bees lip-balms made of natural products (specifically honey). The product was so popular that the company created various other skin-care products of honey – they don’t have their own outlets to sell the product, but rather stands in supermarkets and pharmacies but still there is high demand on the products.


Burt’s Bees didn’t ask a direct question of what you as a customer want our products to be, how we can make you happy; all what they did is using the commonality of a problem and addressed that problem by offering a better product which the customers don’t want but still will definitely buy.

Another great example which is provided by Dr. Howard Moskowitz, the leading market-research and innovation professor who is a Harvard University graduate – who helped many companies in making better products and selling more. Dr. Moskowitz idea was very simple, there is no such a thing as a perfect product or service – it is the variety that will lead the customers to buy more of everything offered.

Dr. Mosowitz was in charge of developing the Prego spaghetti sauce – he was asked to create the best spaghetti sauce in the market for Prego to sell more of that. The approach to any other marketing-research specialist would have been to create a focus group, offer various types of spaghetti sauce, and put the data on a curve to understand which flavor has the highest demand.

Dr. Mosowitz have had an innovative approach towards the project; he told Prego there is no such a thing as the perfect spaghetti sauce – there are perfect spaghetti sauces; he developed a variety of flavors for the spaghetti sauce (42 to be exact).

Mosowitz told the company to introduce all of them in the market. The demand on the products was extraordinary; people liked the variety of what is being offered in addition to the cultural authenticity of the products.
Mosowitz used Italian ingredients in the spaghetti sauce as he knew as a market researcher that the customers would like more the Italian spaghetti and the demand would be higher.

The main concept is that customers can’t tell which products or services they like the most; why people buy Pepsi and don’t buy Coka Cola or vise versa – the taste is almost similar; it is just the level of sweetness which creates the difference.

Companies has to be innovative in what is being offered; understand the common problem which is related to what they offer and address it with a better offering, and that will eventually lead to making profit.

Where to find Dr. Islam Gouda,