At that time, I just came back from the States (late 1989) and I heard the same words 5 years earlier in California at school.
During 90’s the Design community was starting to follow and learn how to really work with those “Styling tests, Marketing surveys, Benchmarking studies, Statistic population analysis at so on”.
It was the beginning of potential client Designs versus emotional Designs.
Today all this is a lot amplified due to global markets. In 1997 the Fiat Palio was named “the world car”, 10 years later the Renault Dacia Logan is the “world low cost car” in a completely changed contest.
Client tests are very commons; ethnic studies are often proposed, interpretations of future scenarios, too. The question is: can Design exist without Marketing? What is the real advantage for designers to listen and follow what marketing studies tell about a product or project development?
Personally, I never liked to follow too much all this Marketing and Trends stuff simply because I come from a school where “Emotions and talent” drive the project. In other words; to make a product to get the wanted success we designers should follow our talent and emotions and make proposals that at the end do provoke similar reactions by potential clients (I wanted…yes I love it..)
Naturally, there must be coherence between Design and real product cost. The market will never by something extremely good if out of price.
So this is not easy to reach, not every designer will be able to do it, but it is important not to create a stereotype of client Design culture that follows only the recipe of today’s picture! This would work against design progress.
All the studies and reports produced are only about today’s people reaction, the future scenarios are predictions made by analysts. However, nobody can certify that it is the only true story! I think that the designer with talent and good knowledge (who follows life changes) is able to make such type of prediction better than a specialized marketing and trends’ studies team. To me it is a question of emotional feeling about how life goes through, about how people change and try to anticipate them by following their emotions.
It is not about a cold report that puts together all sorts of statistics, photos, habits questions at so on…
We must follow ourselves by using our talent and culture; we will read and learn about marketing and trends’ studies knowing that they are not the only way to solve the problem.