Researching consumer preferences might be a complete waste. Most consumer research assumes that people have a stable set of preferences that govern their choices and that these can be discovered through surveys and focus groups. But, there is growing evidence that people don't already know what they want. Rather, they construct their preferences at the moment they choose in light of available options and other contextual cues.
What's more, the option people select can be influenced by introducing options that should be irrelevant like, for example, by adding an option that isn't even available (One that is "sold out"). This suggests that carefully constructing selection sets (the options from which people choose and the way they are presented) is more important to guiding people's eventual choices than researching consumer preferences ahead of time.
Here are some papers to read if you're interested in learning more. Spread the fire. GS
- Constructive Consumer Choice Processes
- How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?
- A New Look At Constructed Choices Processes