Saturday 20 July 2019
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A Car the Color of a Martini? | Research Your Consumers

A Car the Color of a Martini? | Research Your Consumers

Go Where Your Consumers Are Comfortable

By Dwight Fletcher

A few years ago, I was walking through the Saab exhibit area at the New York International Auto Show during an assignment for Ford Motor Company. I was there to gather insights on how people pick car colors.

My eyes immediately landed on a very unusual, greenish-yellow color on a sedan, and I asked one of the exhibit staffers about this “interesting color”.  He was ready for that comment and excitedly launched into the story of its creation.

Apparently, on a Mediterranean cruise the year before, the Saab CEO and his wife were enjoying martinis on the top deck.  When the sun lit up his wife’s martini, she passionately suggested he consider that color for one of the new Saab models.  So, he called his office from the cruise ship, communicated the color to one of his production team members, and less than a year later that color showcased in Saab showrooms around the world.

“Is that color selling pretty well?”, I asked, not having seen one on the road anywhere.   “No”, he chuckled, “not at all”.

Two lessons here.

First, be careful about moving forward with anything this unconventional without getting your customers involved.   The color, cool-looking in a martini glass, apparently lost its cool on the streets.

Second, I was able to get this Saab team member’s absolute honesty by being in his world, where he was comfortable enough to relate this story, frankly and without reservation.  (He probably shouldn’t have, but he did, nonetheless.)

This is one of our main tenets at Spearfish: Go to where consumers are, don’t ask them to come to you.  In their own “natural habitat” they are more relaxed and comfortable and much more likely to reveal insights that are richer and more likely to be breakthrough.

About Spearfish

Since 2000, Spearfish has delivered game-changing consumer insights work to a variety of industry-leading marketers, including Frito-Lay, American Airlines, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, Newell Rubbermaid, 7-Eleven, Dell, Goldman Sachs, Pepsi-Cola, COMPUSA, Cirro Energy, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Service Corporation International, Baylor Healthcare, Children’s Health, Scotts Miracle-Gro and numerous other retail and restaurant brands.

Their practice is focused on four strategic areas: positioning, new product development, ideation and naming strategy.



The Spearfish approach employs a methodology they developed called "Studying Humans in the Wild", since with each assignment they observe and talk to consumers on their turf - where they are in the process of making the purchase decisions which ultimately shape our clients' bottom lines. Their "Insight Sessions" (non-traditional focus groups) are more effective due to recruiting efforts, which to date have found consumers who 95% of the time have never attended a focus group before, and venues where they are more relaxed and comfortable (typically not in traditional focus group facilities).CEO Dwight Fletcher graduated from Harvard and received his MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. He and his family live in Dallas.