Much economic ink has been spilled writing about the concept of "smart demand," namely that consumers should be well-informed about both their needs and the available options that might satisfy those needs. In 1970 economist George Akerlof wrote a paper, "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism." (He received a Nobel prize for the work in 2001.) Among other points, Akerlof observes that uncertainty slows down a market: in other words, when buyers have significantly less information about products than do the sellers, the market slows down.
In 2011, Kim Smith, a cofounder of consulting firm, Bellwether Education Partners, wrote a paper with Julie Petersen called "Push and Pull: Strengthening Demand for Innovation in Education." Here's how they describe the need for "smart demand" in education:
"...public education in the US has had a notoriously weak “demand” function—that is, educational buyers as a whole are rarely seen as clamoring for products that will make dramatic improvements in the way they work or the outcomes they accomplish, and the needs and preferences of forward-thinking users are rarely the basis of development and innovation cycles, which are more often organized around the largest customers or the lowest common denominator across customers. To fuel innovation in education, we need a “smarter” demand function in the ecosystem—including cutting-edge customers and buyers that have high expectations for new products and services that will meet their needs, who have the power to push suppliers to create and innovate, and then drive adoption for those solutions that lead to better outcomes at the same or lower costs."