Today's Reveries offers a terrific example of effective customer research:
"Medical equipment makers typically ask surgeons, 'How can we build a better stent?' and then get the answer, 'You should make it more flexible, easier to see and stronger.'" However, Dr. Hunter and his team asked a very different question, a question that led directly to a highly lucrative innovation. The question was: "What does the body do to these stents and why do they fail?"
That question yielded a very different response. The real problem with stents was not so much that they were inflexible, weak or hard to see, but that, over time, scar-tissue tended to grow over them, reblocking the artery and sometimes requiring "repeated angioplasty." For that problem, Dr. Hunter's team arrived at novel solution.
Dr. Hunter and company, following two years of tests, decided to experiment with coating stents with paclitaxel, a drug used to prevent the recurrence of tumors... After seven years of tests on animals, Dr. Hunter had a stent with just a three percent failure rate - versus 20 percent for uncoated stents. When its stents entered the U.S. market last month, "they reached $98 million in sales in their first 18 days."
Neuromarketing will never replace the value of knowing the right questions to ask in the first place.