Video Case 1
3M’s Post-It Flag Highlighter: Extending the Concept!
“I didn’t go out to students and ask, ‘What are your needs, or what are your wants?’” 3M inventor
David Windorski explains to a class of college students. “And even if I did ask, they probably
wouldn’t say, ‘Put flags inside a highlighter.’”
So Windorski turned the classic textbook approach to marketing on its head.
That classic approach—as you saw earlier in Chapter 1—says to start with needs and wants of
potential customers and then develop the product. But sometimes new-product development runs in
the opposite direction: Start with a new product idea—such as personal computers—and then see if
there is a market. This is really what Windorski did, using a lot of marketing research along the way
after he developed the concept of the Post-it
EARLY MARKETING RESEARCH
David Windorski initially talked to a team of local college
students to try to understand how they study, take notes
and prepare for exams. He then spent several years working
with clay and wood models, a sawed-in-half highlighter,
and finally a computer-generated model using the
latest laser technology.
During this new-product development process, Windorski
and 3M did a lot of marketing research on students.
Some was unconventional, while other research was
quite traditional. For example, students were asked to
dump the contents of their backpacks on the table and
to explain what they carried around and then to react to
some early highlighter models. Also, several times six or
seven students were interviewed together and observed
by 3M researchers from behind a one-way mirror—the
focus group technique discussed later in Chapter 8. Other
students were interviewed individually. And when early
working models of the Post-it
Flag Highlighter finally
existed, several hundred were produced and given to students
to use for a month. Their reactions were captured on