The two most famous stories about market research are used as arguments against it.
In the first story, Henry Ford famously said that no bit of research or consumer testing would have led him to car production. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
That may have been true, but Henry Ford wasn’t in the buggy business or even the transportation business. He was a machinist and worked on his family farm. His goal was not to build the first car or enhance transportation; it was to improve car production. Ford neither invented the car nor the assembly line; instead, he improved them so middle America could afford automobiles. He was all about improving efficiency because he knew, from market research, that most Americans didn’t have cars because they were too expensive. His job was to build a car cheap enough for America to buy, not build a faster buggy.