Market research has always been a useful tool for companies across industry, providing insights into user needs and wants. For decades, the standard procedure for conducting and reacting to research has been to gather data, analyze, and strategize changes to adapt to what has been learned. Despite the ubiquity of this process, the greatest successes have come outside the traditional method, from visionary leadership that chooses to innovate in order to influence users, rather than being influenced by them.
True innovation is the driving force of changes in consumer desires. The banking industry in the 1990s was a prime example; the internet was a new dynamic in the business of banking. Market research at the time suggested that bank customers found the web irrelevant to their personal finance. Obviously for most banks, the smart play was to ignore web integration. Leading banks of the era like Citicorp and J.P. Morgan & Co saw the situation differently; noticing potential to revolutionize banking with new capabilities that the internet offered. Internet banking boomed from 2000-2004 and a decade later, online services are the preferred banking method of the majority of bank customers; Bank of America and Chase even offer mobile banking through smartphone platforms.
Bank customers also proudly show their loyalties and advocate for their bank’s brand on social media websites. Other trends in the social media space, arguably the most influential emergent industry in the modern era, mirror the banking industry’s display of a need for progressive thinking. Aside from the negative stigma collected through years of issues like cyberbullying and hacking, myspace.com, once on the forefront of social media, was ultimately crippled by its inability to innovate. By contrast, Facebook’s rise to becoming undisputed standard-bearer for social media has been marked by its consistency in offering new services and integrations. As time passed, Facebook’s offerings became the new benchmark for the expectations of social media users.
In order to maintain a competitive edge, it’s best not to react to the latest market research once it’s published. Try to stay ahead of the market. Innovate. Why wait in line for the teller when you can make a deposit using your iPhone?