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3 techniques for more consumer led innovation

One of the most frequently stated goals our Global clients articulate to us, is to have a more consumer led and consumer connected innovation process.

Global FMCG manufacturers are increasingly adopting a centralised Innovation structure, whereby category innovation is developed in one location and then rolled out Globally. At the same time, research budgets are under pressure and travel restrictions or bans are commonplace. The opportunity to connect with consumers Globally, under these conditions, is often very limited.

Over the last three years we have been experimenting with the largest FMCG manufacturers in the World. Together we have investigated, how Digital Immersions can help overcome these challenges and deliver a truly more consumer connected innovation process.

For 2015, most of our clients have developed annual digital immersion plans, within their innovation process. While these plans vary from Company to Company, the elements that appear in all of them, reflect our combined learning’s over the last three years and will be of interest to anyone interested in consumer led innovation.

1) Build hypothesis based on observed rather than claimed behaviour

Observe consumers’ experience of your and your competitors’ products and packaging in the natural environment and time of consumption.

Consider testing products from overseas markets, or adjacent categories with your local target audience and observe their experience.

By doing so you can quickly form hypothesis based on observed behaviour, of readily available products, without the cost or time associated with building prototypes.

2) Reduce the risk of the “lift and launch” innovation strategy.

Centralised innovation that is rolled our Globally has some inherent risk.

Placing the products in the hands of target consumers in Key markets around the World and observing their experience, in the natural environment of consumption, does several things.

It helps the entire Company observe the experience of the target consumers in multiple Countries, in the natural environment of consumption, when there is no researcher or moderator present.
It highlights the drivers and barriers in each of those markets, lessons that can often be applied to other Regions.
It helps articulate the differences in the communication hierarchy for the marketing team and their supporting agency in each of the test markets.
It provides compelling stimulus to support volumetric forecasts, in internal and retailer presentations.

3) Provide an opportunity for the entire organisation to learn through Post-launch reviews.

The post launch review is a simple, yet incredibly effective way of making sure that over time, the organisation is getting closer to the way consumers experience new product introductions and they are learrning from them.

Lessons of what worked and what did not work can often have value across International boarders and help ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated in multiple markets.

They also help form consumer centric hypothesis, for future innovation projects in other markets and categories.

Food for thought.

Consumer led innovation is an easily stated goal, but is far harder to achieve in reality.

Global digital immersions are a simple technique that helps Companies achieve those goals, despite the reality they face with both their travel and research budgets.