Event: Understanding Customer Needs | Harvard Innovation Labs
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Mar 03, 2016

Understanding Customer Needs

Although nobody can prove that Henry Ford ever said, “If I had asked customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse,” it is still true. Customers are rarely the source of winning new product ideas—how can the customer know?—which means relying on the customer to tell you what to build is a recipe for failure. Yet both entrepreneurs and established companies expect just that. Real innovation, on the other hand, comes from a deep understanding of customer needs—the benefits that customers seek within given contexts or occasions.

John Mitchell (AB ’96) is President & Managing Principal of Applied Marketing Science, and an expert in customer insights. In this session, he will:

  1. Introduce some common marketing research methods and their principal uses for innovation
  2. Show you the right way to think about customer needs as part of your value proposition
  3. Share some tips and techniques for getting good research with a startup’s budget