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Marketing insight: A review of 'How Customers Think'

We all know that, despite the vast resources spent on research, nearly 80% of new products fail. Is it just because customers donšt know what they want, or that researchers are unable to really get under their skin?

A new book from the Harvard Business School Press, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market by Gerald Zaltman, attempts to answer this by offering marketers the tools and techniques that can help them 'mine the unconscious'.

Is it a book on the merits of qualitative research? Well, maybe, since it builds on research using neurology, sociology, literary analysis and cognitive science to offer insights into what happens within the complex system of mind, brain, body and society as consumers contemplate their needs and evaluate products.

He then packages it in a way that marketers will understand, but the real question is whether they will just take it on board when they next commission research or put it into practice themselves?

Reviews on Amazon's site range from those who consider it lacks practical, hands on advice on marketing, to those who believe Zaltman captures fundamental marketing insights in precise terms. Maybe it's a case of suck it ­ or read it ­ and see.

<a httpz://>Click here to buy online from Amazon</a>


Louella Miles

This article was first published in InBrief magazine, May 2003
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2003