Market research  now has a pretty sophisticated set of tools, all sorts of ways to tell you what to do, to provide a crutch for decision making, to take away the responsibility for making a courageous decision.

However, it boils down to the option of qualitative, collecting behavioral patterns, and quantitative collecting numbers.

Many years ago, as the  one responsible for the marketing of Ski yogurt in Australia, I struggled with the reality that we were number two in the Australian market, just ahead of a swag of alternatives and the leader had nearly three times our share. Whatever we did, however much we spent, the number did not change much. One day, in a supermarket talking to a young Mum buying yogurt in a 1kg container, I noticed she had to use both hands to pick up the round container of Ski, complicated by the fact that her youngster was insisting on being carried. The solution was blindingly obvious, use a rectangular container, she could pick it up with one hand, and the side benefit was that it now fitted in the door of a domestic fridge, and gave retailers better shelf space efficiency.

The result of the launch of the new rctangular pack was a huge increase in Ski’s market share, and an appetite for innovation that enabled several other ideas to hit the market, resulting in leadership in a relatively short time.

The lesson is that the quantitative data did not tell us this stuff, it told us consumers, both the ones who preferred Ski, and those whose loyalty was to Yoplait, the market leader,  were happy with the product, loved the taste, consistency, packaging, and so on, but the approval of the product just did not translate into sales beyond a modest market share. However, the behavioral insight coming from just watching how the product was handled, qualitative data, gave us the insight, it answered a question we had not thought to ask, and with which the consumer had no experience, as all tubs to that point were round, and nobody had suggested any alternative.