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Successful Product Innovation Leverages New Agile Research Approaches

A corporate commitment to innovation requires insights professionals to embrace new research methodologies.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then requisite is the mother of innovation. And it is clear that today’s marketplace demands innovation like never before. “The days of success by pushing out new products to consumers through trusted brands are over,” says Dave Lundahl, CEO of InsightsNow and author of Breakthrough Food Product Innovation Through Emotions Research. “Today, consumers are in charge – demanding new products in response to rapidly change points of view constantly shaped through social media feeds and other news outlets.”

Never before has speed to market response been more necessary.  Today’s marketers need faster insights, faster ideas and faster prototyping for faster speed to market.  This has forced a change in how companies innovate and how insights are generated to support decision making along the road to a new product launch.

Successful companies have shifted from a traditional “stage-gate” step-by-step innovation process, which relies on large, comprehensive quantitative research methodologies, to one that incorporates design thinking and rapid prototyping, approaches which leverage innovative blends of qualitative and quantitative research methods and strategic facilitation for decision making.

Successful product innovation leverages new agile approaches

Marketers, insights professionals and R&D teams need are forced to think like an agile organization. Inherent in the ways that entrepreneurs and startups innovate, being agile means eliminating excess; not by cutting corners, per se, but by getting to market faster and with a lower investment – by being smarter.

Today, smart product innovation leverages agile, innovative approaches to consumer research. Consider three new methodologies that can help you achieve sustainable growth and agile innovation:

1. Identify behavioral whitespace that can offer unique product differentiation:

Instead of finding product whitespace at the front end, focusing on relevant attributes and features, look at moments of behavioral opportunity to discover those that are highest for new or existing brands to capitalize on.

2. Employ iterative methods that are human-centered and aligned with design-thinking:

Instead of one-way, cost-prohibitive quant surveys to gauge consumer interest to new ideas and concepts, launch co-creation and co-design qualitative efforts with target consumers to manage incremental financial investments and increase ROI with feedback loop.

3. Learn sensory cues that can be designed into products and concept communication:

Instead of traditional product testing to maximize liking, set out to understand the product (and packaging) cues that signal benefits through behavioral techniques and proven methods, ensuring that R&D and Marketing work collaboratively and in tandem.

Using a behavioral lens in research you can focus on cues to leverage and avoid. Some of the most successful companies’ innovation teams utilizing behavioral approaches can shorten innovation cycles, build cross-functional buy-in and increase in-market success.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then consider it a necessity to adopt new approaches: look through a new behavioral lens, shift to a human-centered, iterative research philosophy and consider the sensorial cues that will either make or break a product new to the market.

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Karen Lynch

Karen Lynch

Senior Director, Qualitative Insights, InsightsNow