Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

Innovation – Failing Fast vs Failing miserably

The chances are in the last week or month you have heard the senior leadership of your organisation announce that they want a few things:

  • “We want to be closer to consumers”
  • “We want to be consumer led”
  • “We want a more consumer connected innovation process”


By the time they have finished beating their chests and hopped back on the plane to the next destination on the junket, the teams left behind are often left wondering how these goals are to be achieved.

Especially as the presentation also briefly mentioned the “zero based budgeting”, “leaner business models” and “travel bans” under which the company will now operate.

In the last year WMT has been asked to demonstrate to many of the world’s largest brands, some simple processes that can make these goals a reality by doing more with less.

While it won’t sound particularly exciting there is a simple truth that holds true for every organisation:

In-context observation reduces risk and provides an authentic consumer connection.

If you watch your target consumers using your – or your competitors – products or prototypes in an in-context situation – natural time of consumption, natural environment of consumption and with no strange people present – you and everyone in your company will learn how the product, packaging or service really performs and how it makes people feel.

You will also have a jolly good idea whether your perspective buyers like it or not and why.

If they do like it you can use the videos to build momentum with all stakeholders.

If they don’t, it will be harder for anyone to to keep pushing forward if everyone has seen the real reaction of the target market.

It will also provide clues as to what potential changes could be made to make it more appealing.

It works. And there are no longer any barriers

Technology now exists within multiple agencies and DIY apps to embed in-context observation into any innovation process.

This can be done globally in a way that is cost effective, requires minimal time and can be shared throughout the organisation so lessons are learned.

But some people just love building barriers, don’t they…

We prefer “traditional” qual.

That is just not the process here.

Our preferred research partners do not offer that.

We are consumers ourselves, so we test things internally.

Our Marketing Director/ the buyer thinks it’s a great idea so we are moving ahead.

We have capacity in the factory.

We have already invested too much to not proceed.

We do not have time.

Sound familiar?

These explanations go quite a long way in explaining why many companies are not close to consumers and why so many products that no one wants make it all the way to market before failing miserably.

The need for robust research is well recognized and widely understood and in context observation does not replace that need. It does however simultaneously reduce risk and provide an authentic consumer connection that can be easily shared.

It might be worth asking whether your company has embedded in context observation into the innovation process?

If the answer is no, perhaps it will benefit everyone if you explore why?