Keys to Successful Product Development #8: How “Wisdom of the Crowd” Can Help You

This season has brought a popular new TV show called “Wisdom of the Crowd. “  A group of programmers uses social media to solve crimes by presenting their followers with details about a crime and then leaving it to the crowd of followers to come up with the most logical solution – all of which is analyzed statistically.  As new facts come to light, the logic and solutions evolve.  This is fascinating to me because it is also the underlying principal behind our product testing.  The wisdom of the crowd – in our case – quantitative samples of usually 300 or more – always leads us to the right answer.  It works so well that sometimes I think it’s uncanny.  There have been times when we’ve received products or designs to test that I felt were too similar, too boring, too humdrum to find appeal.  But our “crowds” of carefully selected consumers have never failed to identify what they like and our meta-research on three decades of our design testing methodology has never failed to demonstrate the value of quantitative testing over management judgement.

Click here to learn more about quantitative product and design testing.

When watching the “Wisdom of the Crowd” show I am also struck by the parallels between the approach the police take to solving crimes and the approach the programmers take.  The police approach – finding and following clues one by one – reminds me of qualitative research where there are few people involved and answers are found slowly person by person some of whom may lead to wrong conclusions.  Quantitative research, on the other hand, which captures the thinking of hundreds of people, provides a more efficient way to a better conclusion.  Which is why in our custom research studies we use both qualitative research to generate hypotheses about phenomena and quantitative research to recommend strategies.