Our Unique Consumer Centric Innovation Process
The key to our innovation model is that ideas and concepts must first be grounded on consumer needs and problems. We believe coming up with ideas first, and then looking for problems to address those ideas with does not work as well as starting from the true need.
How do you discover the consumer need, especially if that need has previously been unaddressed, and unarticulated? Focus groups, or market research? These methods are suitable for discovering product deficiencies, but usually don’t tell the reasons behind them. They are, in a sense, a car accident report telling you what has happened, but they can not really provide details to decipher circumstances leading to that car crash. Finally, they are certainly not good for looking ahead, i.e. driving the car.
Proxies for the consumer have also been used. These proxies tend to be consumer panels, occasionally lead users, or quantitative consumer research, or even the gut feeling of decision makers within the companies themselves. We have heard stories of CEOs of ski companies testing skis, etc. and making product selections. These types of approaches often result in product development by the seat of the pants, which provide mixed results at best. Naturally, successes are often over-communicated, and misses are forgotten fast, resulting in an availability bias.
We believe that the solution to this problem is not to ask consumers what they need in a focus group, or in a market research activity. Instead, we believe in going into their homes or environments where they are purchasing and consuming products, and ethnographically observe what drives their decisions, and why.
You may have heard that what consumers say, what consumers do, and what consumers think are three different things. If that is the case, (we certainly think so), then observing them in their ethnographic environment is the shortest path to discover what they are truly thinking. Armed with that information, consumer centric innovation can take place.
Taking this to the next level, for testing concepts, we only do in-context formative testing, and assess how consumers interact with the products being tested by measuring efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction.