Bose learns to listen to customers

Stephen Whiteside

When Beth Werner joined Bose Corp. nearly four years ago, its method for developing offerings such as headphones and speakers did not involve listening to consumers.

"At that time … we hadn't done research outside of our company," she revealed to delegates at The Market Research Event (TMRE) 2015, a conference organised by the Institute for International Research (IIR). "We were afraid of exposing our brand; we were afraid of exposing our secrets; we were afraid that if we opened ourselves up to customers; that something bad might happen."

But this caution meant the privately-held, Framingham, Massachusetts-based enterprise could only draw on the wisdom of in-house stakeholders when making decisions about its products and brand. "Think about it for a minute," said Werner, who is Bose's Innovation Lead for Retail Research & Vision. "Every participant we had was also on [the] payroll – and also lived in Western Mass, essentially."