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People Don’t Want What They Say They Want


Decades ago in my first job at a large software company, we had to do customer surveys regarding our product. The overwhelming response we received was that our customers liked our software, but considered it too “full.” There were too many features, and that made it confusing. There should be less features, they said. That would make the software simpler to use.

Management saw this, and instructed us to call back those same customers and ask them a new question. “What features should we take out of our product?”

The overwhelming answer: “Take features out?!? Don’t take any features out! What, are you guys crazy?”


I don’t have any links handy, gut you can Google this. In most surveys of Americans, most people say taxes are too high. If you then ask these same people what government services should be cut in order to reduce their taxes, the majority say “none.”


The radio industry has a secret. In all of their advertising, music stations constantly scream that they have “more variety!” The reason they say this is because market research clearly shows that music radio listeners always state that they want more variety in the music when they listen to their favorite station.

However, every time radio stations add more variety to their music, guess what happens? They lose listeners. Their ratings drop like a stone. People stop listening.

So radio stations make sure to not offer any variety and play the same stuff over and over again so they can keep their listeners, while constantly advertising that they have “more variety!” Listeners nod in agreement when they hear that, and keep listening to the same music over and over with no variety.

People don’t want what they say they want. This is one reason why many polls, particularly those regarding personal matters such as sex and politics, are often inaccurate. They say they want one thing, then do the opposite.

Isn’t that interesting?

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