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November 20, 2012
Markets Ripe For Disruption
Four Ways To Spot Markets Ripe For Disruption
People often say, “Apple doesn’t do consumer research.” This usually precedes an argument against the need for market research of any kind. But the designers at Apple do conduct research–it’s just not the traditional kind found in consumer-behavior textbooks. It’s informal, impromptu, and driven by acute observations of the context in which their products are used. Being insightful isn’t a question of talent; it’s a question of awareness.
Awareness is essentially being mindful of the cultural and social constructs that surround you and the people for whom you are creating something new. You’ve felt it before. The moment you decide you’re going to buy a yellow MINI Cooper, you start seeing them all over town. Of course, they were there before, but the difference is that now your awareness has been focused.
Ive’s conclusion? “You’re seldom intimidated by something that you can feel.”
All the Apple designers I’ve met share this awareness of context, which may explain why they’re often sensitive to critical details that their competitors overlook. They examine the context for themselves rather than having it described by someone else. Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, describes his observations of people interacting with Mac computers in an Apple store: “When people are looking at Macs in stores, they’re drawn to them in a very physical way. They don’t mind moving them around or touching them.” That observation lead him to an important insight: “You’re seldom intimidated by something that you can feel. If you’re intimidated by an object, you tend not to want to touch it.”
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