More than 80% of professionals said their company incorporates assessments of consumer trends into strategic planning, according to Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry: Lifestyles Survey 2022. This is reflective of a higher number of companies actively seeking consumer insights to help innovations succeed.
Companies are often reactive to market trends, which can make standing out or gaining customer loyalty difficult in the long term. If you're considering these issues and the path ahead for brands, the solution lies in listening directly to consumers and placing their needs at the centre of pipelines.
From quantitative methods like surveys to more exploratory qualitative methods like online ethnographies or discussion boards, consumer insights can provide direction at all points in the innovation lifecycle.
Key Problems to Solve Across the Innovation Lifecycle
Here’s how you can take a consumer-centric approach to innovation.
Assess and prioritise trends that truly matter to consumers
The initial phase of innovation pipelines often involves looking ahead at what’s next. That means identifying areas of focus and creating ideas.
Sometimes, companies make the mistake of assuming what a trend means to consumers or what it looks like. But getting direct input from consumers into trends that impact their daily lives allows for stronger representation of how authentic a trend is and if it is rooted in reality.
When given a chance to respond, consumers can help you capture nuances and remove assumptions about trends, showcasing white space and realistic pathways for future implementation.
Orient innovations around real attitudes, behaviours and experiences
Beyond creating new ideas, companies often face the challenge of making a business case with a new innovation.
The right decisions can be made through witnessing consumer routines—their decision-making process and usage occasions—in the moment. Embracing these realistic behaviours can help you remain competitive and fit products into real-life scenarios.
Ensure every touchpoint is convenient and reflective of their needs
Once an innovation has life, too often the strategy for launch doesn't consider what draws consumers in and how they discover new products.
To choose the most effective strategy, consumers can help with product testing and refining to help determine what locations, channels or even places within retailers a product is most accessible. A clear customer-driven map that reflects how and where people shop for a product helps ensure successful launches.
Stay flexible to shifting demands and expectations
Lastly, every good innovation must be revisited and refreshed for consumers in a market—especially ones that move fast. The most influential innovations remain true to the core but incorporate flexibility for subtle changes.
When you re-engage consumers after launch, your plans for marketing, partnerships and brand ambassadors, among other initiatives, can easily be updated to keep your innovation fresh.
More brands are taking steps to become truly consumer centric. A great example: US-based Trader Joe’s. The retailer has achieved a dedicated following by placing its customers first. From the shopping experience to product variety to excellent customer service, Trader Joe’s considers the customer at every point in the experience.
Always focus on consumer-centric innovations
When you're developing a new product or solution, ask yourself: are we incorporating or planning to bring in the consumer voice?
Your answer should be yes! Because that means the consumer is truly at the centre of your strategy, which can help drive success.
We’ve helped executives like yourself take this consumer-centric approach. You can get tailored and targeted insights on your ideal buyers with our custom research. Connect with us to find untapped market potential, refine product launches and support your innovation journey.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2022 and has been updated.