Customer focus groups are often maligned, yet most large corporations still rely on them to dictate future plans and provide feedback on their products. While this information might be of some use, it is often typically misused by those who wish to provide cover for their decisions. After all, if the focus group liked it, how could we have guessed it would fail?
True visionaries, however, find great success by anticipating what their customers will want. When Walt Disney first came up with the idea for DISNEYLAND, he wasn’t building something that people had asked for; he was building something he knew people would love once they saw it for the first time. Opening day cast members recall confusion among guests as to how they should proceed through the park. Did they have to visit the attractions in the order in which they were listed in the guidebook? How should they act within the park? If one had asked these people in 1950 if they wanted a theme park, they probably would have said no. Once they entered Mr. Disney’s Magic Kingdom, however, they couldn’t imagine a world without it.
“Walt Disney’s secret was to do things you don’t need, and do them well. And then you realize you needed them all along.”
Walt Disney isn’t the only person who has understood this concept; Steve Jobs did as well. Jobs didn’t use focus groups or feedback to gauge what his customers wanted. He looked to the future to visualize what people would eventually want, then gave them exactly that. By applying this sort of vision, he would reap huge rewards when the world flocked to snap up the devices they didn’t even realize they wanted until they first saw them.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
So how can this idea be applied to everyday life? Great success can be yours by anticipating what your customers and clients will want versus what they tell you they want. Staying ahead of the curve will reap you and your organization huge rewards.