Does Your Market Research Match The Facts

Market research is a funny thing. As entrepreneurs or leaders, we all understand it’s needed, but sometimes we go about it the wrong way. Case in point is the video below from The Daily Ticker.

Now, as far as I understand, these guys are experts in their field. And I am in NO WAY saying that they are not, nor am I saying anything bad about them. (Insert legal disclaimer here.) The discussion is about how Wendy’s recently surpassed Burger King as the nation’s number-two hamburger chain. Dan and Aaron go into all of the “research” as to how it happened. Watch for at least a few.

If you can’t view the video, click here.

But what I find HILARious are the comments from the folks below the video. Click here to see them. Essentially what people say has nothing to do with market research or even market strategy. Some of the comments are:

  • “McDonald’s and burger [King] are both disgusting now. The food quality, cleanliness & service have gone downhill faster than a bobsled team. Wendy’s has gotten a lot better recently & i love the expanded menu items.”
  • “If you have eaten at both places, you really don’t need any more insight on how Wendy’s beat Burger King.”
  • “BK executives need to visit a local BK and actually eat the food. Hope they get as sick as i did.”

Once again, I’m not the expert here. There may be someone down in there that feels differently about this discussion and they commented. I just didn’t see it. 🙂 All I’m sayin’ is that sometimes all the market research in the world doesn’t matter. Sometimes, the “experts” need to just ask … well … the experts! Learn from those who know first-hand: the folks who patronize or have patronized these establishments.

A simple focus group can tell you what you need to know. Asking your customers why your product is good or … sucks can tell you considerably more than stats from your latest marketing campaign.

Question: Do you agree with the experts or the commenters? 



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

50 thoughts on “Does Your Market Research Match The Facts”

  1. This is how I do it.

    I eat McDonald only lunch. I’m not a fan of their breakfast. (Love the FRIES!)
    I eat Burger King Breakfast. I’m not a fan of their lunch. (Love the SEC Croissan’wich!).
    I DO NOT eat Wendy’s anymore. And I am sad about it too because I loved Wendy’s.

    One time when I was still in the US Army back between ’98 and ’01 I was stationed at Fort Polk, LA, it was a small base WITH NO WENDYS! Oh no! Me and couple of soldiers went on a Wendys hunt for 2 hours to all the other cities hundreds of miles away and FOUND NONE! We ended up cross the border to TEXAS to get Wendys! lol!

    I use to be a huge Wendys fan, until about 2 years ago. Me, my wife, and kids after Church walked to the Wendys right across the street to eat, and I found in my order of Fried BROKEN GLASS! This is after I ATE IT and almost cut my mouth. I tried to keep it Christ-like as possible. I think my wife was madder than I was. So I kindly gave all the food back, they took my number thinking their was going to be a lawsuit, and gave me a call a week later. Many wanted me to pursue it, but the Spirit of God said, “Leave it alone.” So I did.

    They just lost their number 1 FAN!

    I still miss Wendys! lol!

    But after that, never again.

    I think the glass came from the heat light bulb over the fry warmer station. I should know, Wendys was my LAST JOB before I left for the US Army. But they were looking like, “I don’t know where this could have came from.” I think the fact that they played ‘dumb’ was the determining factor that moved me to never eat there again. Had then been honest, I probably would still be eating there.

  2. Chris you know me well enough to know that I’m ALL ABOUT simplicity! Here’s my analytical evaluation….see who sells the most. They win!

  3. Oh my. I could go on forever about this topic but I’ll be brief……sort of.

    Focus groups may or may not tell you what you need to know because they’re purely qualitative and involve too few people. You should never just pull a few people into a room and expect to get decision-ready information. Emphasis on decision-ready. Sure, what you learn in focus groups can be instructive but leaning on it heavily is way too risky.

    What focus groups are great for though is informing the development of a survey, and there are right and wrong ways to write surveys. In short, they’re written with a strong understanding of human psychology. But assuming you do write it well, it will give you accurate and reliable information you can rely on and use to inform a decision. There’s a big difference between information you get from focus groups with 20-30 people and a well-written survey of hundreds of people. As Ron Burgundy said in Anchorman, “It’s science.”

    Now of course most businesses don’t have the time or money to do this right but ideally this is how you want to go. Otherwise, document as much as you can, learn how to analyze your website and social media statistics really well, ask for feedback all of the time, and keep talking with people. You’ll learn a tremendous amount doing so.

    Okay that wasn’t brief.

  4. I got sick as as as dog when I ate at BK. I wonder if they dunk their food in a toilet before serving it up. I will never eat there again – Except, I love their fries, so I might get those. But yeah, it’s always good for the execs to try and listen to their customers. On the flip side, there seems to always be something to complain about – even with top notch products like Apple (cant customize the screen, too expensive, too hot, etc.)

  5. The customer is always right…for better or for worse. Occasionally, there is an agenda underlying within a comment that reflects poor service, but in general there is no better gauge in how you are performing than to ask your customer.

    Our hospital mails out anonymous surveys to patients after receiving care at our facility. The data the organization collects is usually the best litmus test for quality.

      1. We do. That’s the REAL focus! Most times, it’s that patients feel like the procedure was not explained to them in depth.
        When we talk with our Cat Scan patients, the #1 thing they tell us is, “My doctor didn’t explain any of this. He told me to go get a CT!”.
        We tend to be over-explainers in my department, what with injecting contrast and radiating people, and what not! lol

  6. There were several interesting points to me…first, none of these companies (McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King) compare to Chick-Fil-A who strives to show customer service and appreciation to their customers. I don’t frequent these fast food places, so it would be hard for me to judge if they have changed or what their food tastes like.

    I think a nuget in this video was the comment: “Reinvesting what you already have.” I applaud Wendy’s for doing that. They are taking leadership and owning up to the fact they need to fix what they currently own in the US and not go further in expansion. Good advise for us all.

    I laughed out loud at the comment that “Wendy’s has debt, but they must be doing something right since they are so successful.” Really? That means your debt is okay because you are successful? Hmmmmmmm…no comment.

  7. Both “experts” and “commentors” are a finite source of information and conclusions based upon either group should be judged in the proper context. This is similar to relying on the statistics of an article or a subject without understanding things like sample size, statistical power, etc. Again, you need that proper context. I have found that people that are satisfied with a product are probably less likely to post a comment under a video, etc. than someone who has a very negative view of the product. He who has the most data generally wins.

  8. Seems that people make a definitive decision about a chain based on an experience at one locale. If the service or food is consistently bad throughout the country, then there is trouble. If there is a problem at one location, that’s not an indication that the entire chain is bad, unless you figure that the top management isn’t sending out the right culture “vibes” or getting more involved throughout the company.

    But, there are no fast food places where I live, so what do I know?

  9. I’m not picky about burgers, so I’m fine with either 🙂 I actually like McDonald’s the least.
    But you’re right – academics are in their own little bubble and often don’t understand the real world. Focus groups are good, but ultimately I think you’re just going to have to use trial and error for the most part.

  10. The truth is NO ONE is an expert. We are all a work in progress if we are honest. I think if you call yourself an expert (or have arrogance), I don’t want to listen to you by default. I listen to those who are authentic and have sincerity.

  11. You’re absolutely dead-on.. The real opinion any business needs to be concerned with is that of its CUSTOMERS. What was their experience? What are they telling their cohorts about their experience? ARE YOU LISTENING, AT&T?? (Sorry–obviously not…) Which is why I ask my clients for a post-counseling feedback form. How could I have done a better job a serving them?

  12. I think having good restaurant customer service is the trickiest. There are so many things that are involved that can go wrong. Your experience is a good as the last meal you had there, so that’s the determining factor in you coming back. Granted that fast food can be by definition a low to medium quality product, it is pretty bad when they get bad reviews and word of mouth definitely plays a big role. I say leaders need to walk the floor. Do the “undercover boss” experiment and be a customer in their business. They will learn a lot more from that than from some partial data from “research”.

    1. Lily – you said it – our experience is as good as our LAST meal. Many times I feel some of the people we serve on a daily basis can be served with excellence for years – and then one mistake – and some are wanting to change. Thank God – literally – for the loyal ones!

    2. We’ve been on the road this week, and have never indulged in fast food fare as much as we have the last few days…thankfully.

      We walked into one particular fast food chain, and three garbage cans outside, and both cans inside were overflowing with garbage. Even for a McDonald’s, we were disgusted. If they can’t keep what is visible (and easily fixable) from customers, what is going on behind closed doors?

      I’ll probably never be in that area again, as we were getting off the interstate in Chatanooga, Tennessee. But if we do, I’m never going to that particular McDonalds again.

      In customer service, trust is so hard to build, and so easy to destroy! An undercover boss in this situation would have meant termination for several employees, starting with the manager.

  13. I have to go with the commenters – pretty hilarious, what comes through is serious loyalty and passion (for and against) – it doesn’t matter what you say, I like my store (insert the favourite), I’ve invested in it for years, and I don’t plan to change my views, regardless of what the “experts say”.

    Then there is the group that hates the store with a passion. I don’t have a mean streak, but I wonder what would happen if you managed to lock the most passionate supporters of each store, in one room, and have them try and convince the other group as to why their store rocks!

  14. The key is we need tokeep our senses open. Many times experts end up with right conclusion. But, that does not disqualify a commenter from making insightful statements. We can never afford to say that commenters are not worthy enough to listen. If done so, then it could end as a costly mistake.

  15. Ask your customers, but then LISTEN to the answers! I fill out comment cards at restaurants and the next time I go back, nothing has changed. Why ask if you aren’t looking for improvement?

  16. Well i was just wondering why believe in evolution because how could you just think that a big boom happened and all these animals knew what to do and just had a personality. Cause for example how could a lion know to hunt!

  17. Your belief is called “Theistic Evolution” – which is the belief that God uses (and used) evolution as his “tool” for achieving the current state of life on earth. This, or something similar, is what many people believe, who both accept evolution as true and believe in God.

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