Using Research to Revolutionize Innovation

A few days ago, I was in a meeting where someone defended a decision to cut Voice of the Consumer research before new product ideation sessions, citing a 1985 Playboy interview with Steve Jobs. To paraphrase, Apple wasn’t going to do market research on the Mac because they were the best judges of what’s great and what’s not. Jobs later added, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

For many marketers, the failure rate for new product introductions hovers around two-thirds. The inclination to drop research because discovery is not yielding new information is understandable, but killing consumer research because it’s somewhat costly and time consuming, or worse because the team thinks it knows better than its customers, is a perilous strategy.

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Going Beyond Target Consumers to Drive your Innovation Journey

As Randall Hula noted in Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation, it is critical to involve the right types of consumers at the right points along the Innovation Journey. Instead of simply focusing on your Target Consumer, it is important to recognize how other types of consumers—Lead Users, Creatives, Early Adopters and Brand Advocates—can contribute to and strengthen the innovation process.

These different consumer research groups form naturally around shared traits and preferences, the exact kind of commonalities that can spell gold for marketers—and market researchers. But the keys to tapping into their potential lie in understanding and identifying members of each group and knowing when exactly in the Innovation Journey they can contribute most.

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How Smart Quantitative Research Optimizes Corporate Innovation

How Smart Quantitative Research Optimizes Corporate Innovation

As discussed recently in the blog Forging a Clear Path to Corporate Innovation, involving consumers in the innovation process leads to a richer pipeline of new product ideas. Even in the absence of this approach, companies are constantly generating ideas for new products. With all these ideas coming in—from consumers, employees, management, consultants—on which should management develop into full concepts for testing?

Given the relatively low rate of success for new product launches (less than 3% of new consumer packaged goods exceed first-year sales of $50 million—considered the benchmark of a highly successful launch; HBR, April 2011), and the cost and time in developing and testing concepts, selecting the right ideas for deeper concept testing is critical.

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Is Amazon Chime Poised to Disrupt the Workplace?

Key Takeaway: Given numerous entrants into the videoconferencing sector from established and emerging technology companies—including the recent introduction of Amazon Chime—the market leader position in this space is up for grabs. We at Market Strategies have a lot of questions about how the sector is growing and transforming. How prevalent is videoconferencing? Which platforms are being used? What do companies need to focus on to make their platform ubiquitous?  In this article, we will share our data and insights on the players in this space, including the number one thing a company must do to come out on top.

Videoconferencing technologies have been around for more than a decade, but we have seen them take off with our clients in the past year. We enjoy being able to visually interact with our clients and colleagues so we set out to conduct our own research study to learn more about the experience. While analyzing the results, we were surprised by the introduction of Amazon Chime, which promises “frustration-free online meetings with exceptional audio and video quality.” Why would Amazon enter this market now, with Skype and Hangouts being around for years? Is it insightful or redundant? Will a majority of users asking their colleagues to ‘Skype’ or ‘Hangout’ now ask them to ‘Chime?’

Our data suggests Amazon’s move is insightful. While Skype and Hangouts are certainly popular, there is plenty of room for additional competitors especially since no one seems to have worked out all of the technology bugs. And with a majority of users not wedded to any single platform, Amazon (or another disruptor) has plenty of opportunity to grab market share.

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The Fight for Today’s Video Consumer: How to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry

Today’s Video Consumer

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series on understanding the streaming video consumer. Be sure to bookmark FreshMR so you don’t miss an issue!

It wasn’t long ago when consumers had three choices for video consumption: free TV (using antennas), paid cable TV, and, if going with cable, whether to add a movie channel like HBO. There was little competition, little innovation and very few choices. What a difference a few years makes!

Those simple days are almost unrecognizable in today’s chaotic, cluttered video world.  Sure, consumers can still view local broadcasts over-the-air, but the insatiable appetite for content has dramatically increased our options. Having so many options can be overwhelming to customers but also confusing to the telecommunications and entertainment companies that provide and deliver content.

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Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation

Forging a Clear PATH to Product Innovation

A clear definition of innovation, leadership who supports it and employees empowered to execute it are hallmarks of a strong innovation-oriented company. But, as my colleague Paul Donagher noted in Innovation Journey: Is It Better to be Lucky or Good?, the voice of the consumer is also important to product development research though including the right kind of consumer along the Innovation Journey is critical.

To include consumers in idea generation, we need a repeatable and reliable process that produces groundbreaking, market-relevant concepts by bringing creative individuals and forward-thinking consumers into the innovation process. This consumer-oriented process includes the following steps:

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Innovation Journey: Is It Better to be Lucky or Good?

Is it better to be lucky or good?

Editor’s Note: Our Consumer & Retail team is launching a blog series for the retail and FMCG industries. In the coming months, we’ll share our thoughts on recent advancements—backed by real-world examples—around the consumer journey from innovation and personalization to channel attribution/interaction and omnichannel marketing. Subscribe to FreshMR now so you don’t miss any updates.

The retail and FMCG industries face an uncertain marketplace where prior known certainties can no longer be relied upon. In that reality, there is nothing quite as exciting in product development research as helping clients discover the products of the future.

One notable example is the number of clients who have asked us to help them develop “company-specific norms.” Many clients have relied on ‘generic’ norms for their simulated market testing, but they’re now ready to move in a different direction. Why? One client responded quite clearly, “We’ve found ourselves developing concepts to ‘beat’ the testing process to move forward, rather than to actually meet consumer and market needs.” The tail was wagging the dog, and potential new products were being designed to beat the process. As a result, the process had become more important than the outcome. Changing the way they looked at normative data was just one way in which this company was trying to reassess their innovation journey to change success/failure outcomes.

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Two Common Product Development Mistakes to Avoid

Two Common Product Development Mistakes to AvoidEditor’s Note: Our qualitative researchers go beyond people’s words and actions to reveal the meaningful insights behind them. They have decades of experience across a myriad of industries and brands. But who are they? And what drives their desire to connect with others? Take a two-minute peek into today’s featured moderator: Rob Darrow.

When I first entered the field of market research years ago, the CEO of our small boutique firm routinely stated that “our greatest challenge doesn’t come from other research firms, but from prospective clients who feel they don’t need research.”  Thankfully, most companies recognize that market research plays a critical role in market success, but even that enlightened view is not sufficient to guarantee success.

After all, what does “market research” for any given organization actually mean?  When is it needed?  How should it be applied? Even those who are committed to better serving their customers can find themselves making some very basic mistakes when it comes to using or not using market research.  Following are two common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to market research and product development.

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Putting Your Best Foot Forward

How to Avoid Product Pitfalls through Deep Understanding   
feet under seat 2As a qualitative market researcher who conducts focus groups around the country, it’s fair to say that I know a thing or two about air travel. This exposure has made me notice the many little things that contribute to making a flight pleasurable or miserable. There are so many things, in fact, that I will only focus on one of the details that recently made an impression on me.

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Do You Hate to Lose or Like to Win?

How cognitive biases can influence market research results

Do You Hate to Lose or Like to Win?

Let’s assume you are looking to invest some money and come across two investment options:

OPTION 1 OPTION 2
A portfolio that promises an 80% chance of earning $4,000, but a 20% chance of no return A portfolio with a 100% chance of earning $3,000

Which one would you choose? If you are like most people, you would choose option two. However, when we analyze each of the prospects, we realize that we are better off with option one (expecting to earn an average of $3,200 vs. $3,000 with the second portfolio).

We all want to believe that our decisions are rational and based on a careful evaluation of all possible outcomes, especially when it comes to money. But in reality, emotions, intuition and cognitive biases play a bigger role in our decisions than we acknowledge or want to admit, both in financial decision-making and in market research. Due to these biases, we often deviate from the conventional economic model of decisions based on expected utility: We like the idea of winning $100 and dread the idea of losing $100, and not because $100 has a major impact on our wealth. We simply dislike losing more than we like winning.  Continue reading