Here are five mistakes that companies make when they send people out into the field to research consumer behavior.
1. Researchers ask leading questions, fishing for the answers that they wish to hear.
2. Companies research their "typical" customer, but fail to look at non-typical users or folks who have rejected doing business with the company altogether.
3. Researchers look for and collect data that will confirm what they already believe, and they dismiss or explain away disconfirming data.
4. Researchers intervene to "educate" consumers on how to "properly" use their companies' products, rather than seeing "improper" use of a product as an unbelievably important piece of data.
5. Companies weigh surveys much more heavily than field observations, since they can quantify the data from survey responses (while field observations are written off as anecdotal evidence).