Here's something cool I realized as I did my research for The Kickstarter Handbook. More than almost anything out there, Kickstarter is a laboratory of What People Want. The founding principle of Kickstarter, after all, is that you pledge dollars so that this film, or artwork, or awesome iPad accessory or building toy or desk lamp can be born. It won’t come into existence without your cash, and you want to see it happen. In fact, you want one.
Traditional investors in products and ideas often have a different motivation. They may like an idea, but the bottom line for a product investor is whether it will become popular enough to make money. What's the return on the investment going to be? By contrast, when you give money to a Kickstarter project, you don't get any equity in the venture. There is no pretense or hope of financial upside. It's purely a vote for stuff that you wish would exist.
And because the vote is with real money, I think it's more indicative of what people truly want than, say, a consumer survey, where you can say anything -- sure I'd buy a hybrid car or Android-based hat -- but you don’t have to actually put up any cash to prove it.