Typical building material market research usually gives you back very expected results.
The results are limited to what customers view as possible. If you ask a contractor what a manufacturer could do better, you will get answers like lowering the price or shipping faster.
As part of my process of diagnosing a problem for my building material clients I frequently interview contractors, builders, architects, dealers and distributors. I will ask them their opinions about the product category in general. I will then ask them about what brand they buy and why.
I then ask them, “Is their anything you wish your supplier could do better or differently?” This is when they will tell me what they believe is possible. These wishes are usually based on a past experience or something they have seen someone else offer.
Even though I will tell them that it could be anything, anything at all, their wishes are usually nothing unique.
The Power of the Magic Wand
This is when I have a little fun. I hand them a pen and tell them that it is a magic wand. I tell them that with the magic wand, anything is possible. I then ask them again, if you could change anything, anything at all what would it be.
You can see their body language change as they think about my question with a new sense of power and child like wonder. Then the ideas start to flow. Ideas that are truly original. Most of the ideas are impractical but there are usually a few big Aha’s that are doable.
The ideas that come from a customer empowered by a magic wand are the ones that one company can use to leap ahead of others.
Next time you’re interviewing a customer and want to hear something new or different, hand them a magic wand. Its one of the most powerful building material market research tools I use.