Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Listening to vs. Understanding Your Customers

Michael Norton, assistant professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, has published a case study about elBulli, a unique and incredibly popular restaurant in Spain. In this article discussing the case, Norton makes an interesting distinction between listening to customers vs. understanding them. Norton explains the chef/owner's thinking: "AdriĆ 's idea is that if you listen to customers, what they tell you they want will be based on something they already know," Norton observes. "If I like a good steak, you can serve that to me, and I'll enjoy it. But it will never be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To create those experiences, you almost can't listen to the customer."

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