Humans are infinitely variable in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. As researchers we are continuously surprised and fascinated by the people we meet and the stories they tell - and this extends to B2B research just as much as consumers. Consensus is valuable and useful, but variability is priceless because it delivers reality to your thinking.
There is a tendency on the part of marketers to think of people as 'normal', which is often code for, "they think how I think I ought to think", or to rely too heavily on demographic markers or segmentation to predict attitudes and behaviours. Normal people don’t exist. They are a fantasy. You don’t know anyone who is ‘normal’ - if you did, they would be a robot!
There is also a tendency within research generally to dismiss the outlier; the person or persons who appear farthest away from the average or from the expected 'normal'. We embrace the outlier and bring their voice to your attention. The outlier is often the creative person, the individual thinker, the person with the seeds of the great idea that can transform your business.
Consensus, in terms of thought patterns is strategically useful as it helps us to understand how a topic, brand, product or service is framed. But divergent thought is also hugely valuable as it often provides the spark for creativity and innovation.