Imagine a room filled with MBAs, working on developing the next marketing push. At the core of the conversation is trying to determine what the “common man” wants. I’ve been in that room. I was one of the MBAs. The feeling of futility grows the more times you go through that exercise. You do your best to collect the information you need and yet some part of you understands the information is somehow tainted by the collection process. Focus groups tell you what you want because your paying them. Social media does offer a great opportunity for a better understanding of “market drivers” – aka; what people want but I have to tell you, lately I’ve been looking at the people that are most successful and running businesses they love and the common denominator has been that they are the target market. They’re scratching their own itch.
Brightkite did it. Twitter did it. Apple does it. They create things they want. Things they need.
If you’re thinking of starting a business or targeting a new market; I suggest you target yourself. You know more about what you want/need than any marketing research could tell you about another market.