There was a time when people used cassette players. You couldn’t skip tracks. You had to buy the whole album. And no, you couldn’t illegally download your favorite song.
Back in the 1990s, you probably carried around a Sony Walkman. It was the most popular cassette player. It was an icon. A status symbol. People carried it around like you carry your iPhone today.
In the early days, those Walkmans were predominantly black, or any other dull color.
Then Sony decided to have a focus group.
They had been working on brighter colors for their Walkmans. They wanted to appeal to the younger generation, and bright yellow was their color of choice.
They brought in a few people from their target market. They sat them in their offices. You know, typical focus group. They started talking about Walkmans, and how they were ushering in a new wave of cassette players that were even more visually appealing.
“Would you prefer a yellow Walkman?”
The Sony product team was met with a unanimous ‘yes.’ The teens seem to agree with Sony’s direction, and the product team was over the moon.
On their way out, the teens were given a choice to take home a classic Walkman or one of the newer, yellow ones.
Then, something amazing happened.
Every single one of them preferred the classic, black Walkman.
You see, there’s a stark difference between what people say and what people do. And putting people in focus groups and expecting them to be unbiased only furthers that gap.