Some of the best sources of inexpensive, on-target market research are people who give your product a free trial and then turn itdown.
Disappointed customers provide invaluable feedback for New Pig, a $30-million Tipton, Pa., manufacturer of bean-bag-like absorbents called "pigs" that soak up leaks around manufacturingmachinery. The company's products are sent out with a 20-day, no-risk guarantee; if customers don't like them, they can ignorethe bill. But when a bill is ignored, the company calls.
The upshot has been customer-suggested new or improved products. One customer, for instance, said he wasn't payingbecause the pig reacted badly with the nictric-acid leaks it was absorbing. At that point, New Pig didn't have a product to dealwith hazardous fluids, and the comment inspired the company to develop one. Today, the hazardous-materials pig is amulti-million-dollar-a-year product.
The key to the strategy, says New Pig founder Donald Beaver, is the ignore-the-bill offer. Without it, dissatisfied customerswould pay the first time but never order again, and the company would lose the opportunity to hear their immediate reactions.