Everybody’s Second Choice

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Michael Schrage cites former Chrysler vice chairman Robert Lutz on prototyping to avoid being everybody’s second choice:

When we showed the early prototype for the new “big-rig-inspired” dodge Ram pickup to consumer focus groups in the early ’90s, the reaction was so polarized that the room practically vibrated with magnetism. A whopping 80 percent of the respondents disliked the bold new drop-fendered design. A lot even hated it! They wanted their pickups to keep on resembling the horizontal cornflake boxes they were used to, not to be striking or bold. According to traditional consumer research strategy, we should have thrown that design out on its ear, or at least toned it down to placate the hatemongers. But that would have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope, for the remaining 20 percent of the clinic participants were saying they were truly, madly, deeply in love with the design. And since the old Ram had only about 4 percent of the market at the time, we figured, What the hell! even if only half of those positive respondents actually buy, we’ll more than double our share! The result? Our share of the pickup market shot up to 20 percent on the radical new design.

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