Knowledge without application is like a book that is never read.
—Christopher Crawford, Hemel Hempstead
I HAVE ALWAYS been curious about collectors—people who go around buying things that will never be used. I will be honest; I don’t entirely understand them, or why they engage in this hobby. I’ve always wondered things like, “What good is a Barbie doll that stays in its box and never fulfills its greater purpose of having a young girl dress it up and play with it?” and “Why bother owning a set of china (or multiple sets, for that matter) that stays on a shelf and is never used to serve a meal?”
I feel the same way about the knowledge we gain about our consumers when we do rich-quality work to understand who they are and then never bother to use it or update it, instead choosing to generally ignore it. Many organizations that commission consumer discovery projects still work in an older model where they merely talk to consumers for the sole purpose of being able to claim that they’ve conducted consumer research. Or, they authorize a deep understanding of their consumers only to do nothing in terms of acting upon the results. They fail to realize that information like this can be your strongest asset in today’s changed environment, just as important as the facilities you build, the employees you hire, and the technology you purchase.
Back in the days of VHS tapes and limited bandwidth, we used to deliver research to our customers in a ...