As a marketing specialist, you may be familiar with the phrase "Market Never Lies." Love it or hate it, it is the most used statement in marketing, and there is a crucial reason for it. However, many people, especially entrepreneurs, do not like this phrase because they question who or what the market is. On the other hand, old-school marketing specialists love the statement because it gives them an excuse for poor work. "I'm sorry, it's not my fault; the market said it!" The same marketing specialists believe that the only way to convince a market that does not value your product, service, or brand is by manipulating it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying there is no truth behind the statement, "Market Never Lies." Actually, there is a lot of truth. But the danger lies in its use. It is often applied to suggest that the market, as an abstract entity, has complete control over what consumers value and how they behave, positioning itself above them. Like in the Roman circus, the market only needs to raise or lower its thumb to pass judgment on all the work, resources, and passion that any entrepreneur and team, big or small, has invested in producing that product, service, or brand. How can one not hate the use of this phrase in this context? How can one agree that the value of what I offer will be determined by something that I don't even know what it is, something indefinable, omnipresent, and omnipotent?
"I'm sorry, there's nothing to be done here; the market never lies."
An immovable wall, "I'm sorry, there's nothing to be done here; the market never lies." To make matters worse, the phrase is usually used in adverse situations, such as when a product, service, or brand fails. It is used to justify failure, implying that the market has already issued its verdict and nothing can be done to change it. It's impossible; the market says so.
Well, I have good news for you: nothing is impossible. Although the phrase is crucial in marketing, it is just a matter of formulating it to turn it into a tool that, instead of being a wall to justify failure, becomes a door to achieve success—turning the impossible into possible. How? By following the following 5 detailed steps:
Step 1: Understand the meaning behind the phrase
We must first understand its essence beyond its negative connotations to rephrase the phrase into a marketing tool. Let's strip the expression of its marketing jargon disguise and conceptually break it down - "The market never lies"; the market refers to consumers, and if they don't buy something, it's because they aren't lying - it means they don't value it, they're telling the truth. Therefore, the phrase implies that value is subjective to consumers and that the perception of your product or service is crucial and sincere. Hence, we must always focus on the customers' perception, which is external and never lies.
Our first step will be to rephrase the phrase "The market never lies" to its actual meaning in use, "Consumers don't value our products."
Step 2: Make it specific
The market, as an abstract entity, doesn't offer much value. Perhaps you don't know who your market is, but you should know who your customers are. The only perception we should consider is the perception of the person buying or paying for our product, service, or brand—the person behind the customer, John, Jimmy, Mary, or Sofia. Therefore, let's rephrase the phrase to refer to specific customers who don't value our products enough to buy them repeatedly. Using concrete individuals as references helps understand and have a clearer, more concrete vision of dealing with the situation.
Our second step will be to rephrase "Consumers don't value our products" to, for example, "Mary doesn't value my product."
Step 3: Turn an immovable fact into a question that starts a problem-solving process.
A marketing tool should help solve a problem; to solve a problem, we always have to start with a question to answer. A statement is an insurmountable wall, but a question is an open door to finding an answer. Our third step will be to rephrase "Mary doesn't value my product" into a question, "Why doesn't Mary value my product?"
Step 4: Identify what has value for your customer.
Now that we have a question, we need to find the answer. Value is an external perception, so we must focus on Mary's perception. To identify what Mary values, we must understand not just what the market offers her but also her needs, problems, and desires. Value can be more than just a product or service's price; it can also be convenience, identity, a solution to a specific problem, or design.?
Rephrase "Why doesn't Mary value my product?" into two questions: What problems, desires, and needs does Maria have that are difficult to solve, and how can we provide her with value with our product?
Step 5: Develop the solution.
Once we have identified the problem and found a solution, we can create value that resonates with Maria and other customers in a similar situation. For example, we can redesign the brand with a new design that reflects values that help Maria build her identity. Or we can add a feature to a product that solves an obstacle Maria faces when using it. Or we can create a new service that makes it more convenient for Maria.
Entrepreneurship is a continuous process in which all steps, good and bad, should contribute to continuing a path toward success, no matter what one considers success. There is no greater pain for companies and individuals who give everything, their whole lives, their passion, all their time to try to make a valuable product or service, and when they fail, they only receive a 'The market never lies.' The positive thing is that it is possible; it requires a change of perspective. You need to analyze your product, brand, or service from the customer's point of view, from the value we can bring.
As soon as there is that change of perspective, for example, by following the 5 steps we have described, entrepreneurship and marketing become a hand-in-hand, enriching process not only for the marketing director, CEO, or owner of the company but also for the customer. Marketing can and should be full of meaning, have a significant impact, and be a positive and enriching experience for everyone involved.
Tesla as an example.
Although it may seem that Tesla discovered the electric car, in reality, long before Elon Musk joined Marc Tarpenning, Martin Eberhard, JB Straubel and Ian Wright to found Tesla, Inc. in 2003, electric cars already existed. Actually, electric cars have been available on the market for a very long time, with the first practical electric car developed in the late 19th century. It may surprise you even more to know that the electric car was one of the most popular options in the early 20th century until more affordable and accessible gasoline vehicles arrived—the boom of fossil fuels. Electric cars did not disappear, but they moved to second, third, or fourth place, used for specific purposes, such as forklifts and golf carts.
Entrepreneurs and major brands believed the market had no interest in electric cars.
For all these years, before Tesla erupted in the market, there were continuous attempts to revive the market. The most recent effort happened in the late 1990s, when several companies, including General Motors, offered new electric cars with the EV1, Toyota with the RAV4 EV, and Honda with the EV Plus. But this attempt, like all previous ones, failed until Tesla's arrival. The response was always the same: "The market never lies." Electric cars never became a viable option as passenger vehicles. Entrepreneurs and major brands believed the market had no interest in electric cars. It was simply impossible.
Today, Tesla has made a name for itself
"However, Tesla challenged this belief and made the impossible possible. Today, Tesla has made a name for itself not only as a leader in the electric vehicle market but also as one of the most valuable brands in the world. While some argue that this success is due to Tesla seizing the right moment when the market was already prepared, with a new social awareness towards the environment and a lack of charging infrastructure for vehicles that previously did not exist, the reality is that the majority of Tesla buyers, despite seeming incredible, do not necessarily have a particularly pronounced environmental conscience. And let's not forget that Tesla succeeded even without widespread charging infrastructure. Tesla had a very, very difficult time in an automotive market where the list of successful startups with conventional cars was already very short, and don't even mention startups with electric vehicles. Along the way, they came close to bankruptcy. But how did they make the impossible possible?"
First, they did nothing but rephrase the phrase "The market never lies" into "Why doesn't the market value electric cars?" and thus turn a wall into a problem to be solved. Then, they changed their perspective and delved into the needs and problems of consumers, specifically those that electric cars did not satisfy. By framing it as a problem to be solved with a specific question, they made it inevitable to find an answer. They found two main reasons why consumers didn't value electric cars—one emotional and one rational. The first is that cars could not travel more than 100 kilometers, and the second is that there was nothing more boring than an electric car in the eyes of the customers. They were the opposite of "cool."
Once they knew the reasons, they started working on their first car, focusing on solving the two main consumer problems. First, they invested many resources in developing new batteries to extend the range beyond 100 km. But that wasn't all; with their first model, they made a statement on an emotional level. The first car would not be a boring family car, despite being, on paper, the easiest one to sell on the market. Tesla's first car, the Roadster, in 2008, was a sports car, one of the coolest cars on the market with enormous added value, capable of reaching 400 km of travel. The roadster value offered identity value, added value, and solution value. And, of course, it provided so much value that it was highly valued. Since then, with its different models, Tesla has provided so much value to its customers that they would volunteer to help distribute its vehicles, contributing to a project they consider themselves part of.
In many interviews, Elon Musk has often been asked if his ultimate goal with Tesla was to surpass traditional automotive giants like General Motors. However, Musk's response has always been the same: he does not see Tesla in direct competition with GM. Instead, his mission is to accelerate the implementation of sustainable transportation as the primary option in the market and thus achieve a disruption in the traditional automotive industry, leading to a better and more exciting future.
The question posed by the interviewers about Tesla's rivalry with GM reflects the wrong mentality that traditional marketing strategies often perpetuate. Their main goal is typically to be able to outperform their competitors. However, Musk relies on value-based marketing, in other interview he even said I always thought we could fail, my goal was never to success my goal was to……which instead always focuses on providing the most outstanding value to customers and consumers without expecting anything in return, and for this, he always asks the fundamental question: "How can I be of greater value to others?"
Instead of asking, "How can I beat General Motors?" he asks, "How can I accelerate the arrival of sustainable transportation?" By changing their perspective and focusing on value-based strategies, Musk has placed Tesla's mission on a higher goal than simply beating GM or the competition.
What they cannot deny is that their strategy has worked. Electric car sales in the United States have gone from just 0.2 percent of total car sales in 2011 to 4.6 percent in 2021, which may not seem like much, but the disruption is pretty real.
Many were surprised by the news that the UK has announced it will ban the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2030. Many countries, including France, Spain, and California, are just beginning to create new laws banning the sale of gasoline cars from 2030. And it doesn't end there; almost all major brands, such as Audi, Peugeot, Opel, and Ford have already announced that they will stop producing gasoline or diesel cars in Europe as of 2026. Fiat has announced its conversion of its entire range step by step until 2030.
As Elon Musk predicted, Tesla has achieved what it has always wanted: to accelerate the arrival of sustainable transportation and bring attractive mass-market electric cars to the market as soon as possible, disrupting the traditional automotive industry. That's where their actual value lies.
We can learn from the Tesla case that if you wait until the market is "ready," it will always be too late to bring real value. Instead of waiting for the market to be "ready," Tesla took a proactive stance and never took anything for granted. By changing its perspective and focusing on value-based strategies, a problem-solving process, and a mission bigger than simply beating competitors, Tesla has disrupted the traditional automotive industry and become a leader in sustainable transportation.
There is no need to disrupt one of the world's largest markets to apply value-based strategies. Tesla serves as a reminder that focusing on value and a higher purpose can drive success and have a lasting impact. If Tesla can achieve it in an almost impossible situation, any company at any scale, from small businesses to large corporations, can achieve it.
Everyone, absolutely everyone, can challenge assumptions if we ask ourselves the right questions. We cannot forget that Tesla's success, although due to many factors, began with a fundamental question, "What can make your product, service, or brand valuable to others?" Whatever your company or brand size and market is, always, always, always ask yourself that question. Marketing that leads to success is not manipulative marketing or marketing that does not look beyond abstract markets. The marketing that leads to success is value-based marketing that focuses on the problems, needs, and wants of the people behind those markets.
Whatever your idea of success, is there anything more beautiful than succeeding by being as valuable as possible to others? If you want to learn more about value-based marketing, here are 6 key questions (and answers) to understand why it has become essential for business success and how it compares to traditional marketing and branding.
Co-founder Tomorrow Brands
Marketing and branding strategist
Passion for storytelling