Bic’s new line of pens (Bic for Her) was greeted with scorn by Amazon reviewers. David Vinjamuri, experienced in brand marketing, guessed that the reason for the debacle was that the persons who approved the product were quite different than the persons expected to buy it.
Brand companies are not good at assigning authentic consumers [= consumers of their brands] to work on their brands. They [wrongly] assume that [their] lack of personal experience with the product can be made up [for] by lots of analysis. It is very, very hard to imagine that the people who made the decision to launch “Bic for Her” were the same [people] expected to buy them. And that’s why the huge majority of consumer brand launches fail. There are lots of ways to make an awful mistake, but some of the worst could be avoided if consumer companies were staffed by actual consumers.
Health care has the same problem. In health care, the persons who devise a new treatment (a new treatment for acne, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, whatever) are usually 100% distinct from the persons expected to use that treatment. For example, roughly 0% of acne researchers have acne.
If Vinjamuri is right — and I think he is — this explains a lot about the awfulness of modern health care — the terrible side effects of Accutane, for example. And it explains why personal science works so much better. When personal scientists search for a solution to a health problem (e.g. acne), they are 100% the same as the people who will use the solution. No wonder the solutions they find are so much better than what a doctor would prescribe.