Market research for innovation
“..the way you get to innovation is that you invest in research and you learn the basic facts” — Bill Gates Innovation is part of what we do at Ruby Cha Cha, where we are focused on brand innovation.
We offer a full range of brand innovation services backed by strong market research and planning consultancy to provide you with a complete strategy for future growth.
Ruby Cha Cha provides agility, expertise and a customised approach toward brand innovation, helping your business move quickly and confidently through current and future challenges.
Little Fish is part of the Ruby Cha Cha collective, focused on Innovation.
We offer a full range of innovation services backed by a strong market research and planning consultancy.
We provide agility and a customized approach towards innovation for business speed and confidence.
When it comes to Innovation Services we are ‘front end specialists’ that can help you define the innovation task and work with you to create new ideas that are consumer tested and business ready.
How to use market research to build your innovation pipeline
Innovation is vital to positive progression for organisations, consumers and society. It is about the potential for better living, solving human problems and creating value. While many businesses think this is about creating a big idea or developing new technology, it is so much more than this.
To win with innovation is simply to understand people. What are they trying to achieve in life, and how can we develop a solution to fit their needs? Every company can create lots of ideas, but they need to be based on a need. They need to be harnessed effectively to help them get to market, noticed, and purchased.
But it is not as simple as harnessing an idea to a need. Innovation needs time. Ideas need to percolate, to trial and fail to be optimised or flipped around. This is where market research can help.
Building a needs-based innovation pipeline
When developing a growth strategy, the temptation can be to innovate based on the needs of the business rather than understanding what the consumer needs. Rather than focusing on what we can manage or do in the business, successful ventures shift the focus to be squarely on customer needs.
To develop a strategy without these customer insights is to put the horse before the cart. We can ask people what they need, but real research is essential to proper understanding. Observation is critical to understanding the real issues at hand and the jobs to be done.
We need to get consumers into storytelling to uncover deeper insights — and side issues that we may not be able to openly observe. The best thing in modern times is that technology can enable observational research for faster and more cost-effective solutions. Mobile ethnography and streaming platforms allow ‘in-the-moment’ observations, storytelling and person-centric design thinking.
Market research for innovation needs quality data
We also may be focusing on the wrong ‘data’ — correlations and behaviour patterns might not be what we need to create great products! Modern businesses have no shortage of access to data — in fact, data swamps (and data lakes, if you’re lucky) abound. But your data is only as good as the analysis it’s used for. Raw data is not enough; it takes a practised eye to transform mountains of collected information into useful data that tells a story. Insight needs to be humanised. Problems need to be brought to life, and we really need to focus on the progress that customers are trying to achieve — what they hope to accomplish. This is known as the ‘job to be done’ theory, as imagined by Tony Ulwick.
Brand innovation isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a way of doing
Another issue with building brand innovation pipelines is that we are often tied to traditional processes that are stale and tired. An ideas-first approach means we try to ideate a winning product, then produce about 20-100 product concepts, prioritise, then put them into a screener. After that, perhaps more research, analyse them again, then put into development. Finally, possibly put out a viable product (if it gets through the gate process).
Iterative learning is good but also timely and costly, and we may be no closer to really understanding what consumers want. Having said that, iterative learning is much better than simply ideating, testing and launching with both fingers crossed.
Starting out on the right foot
Brand innovation’s real goal should be finding out what the winning product concept is before the product goes into development. In other words, do your research first and invite the consumer to solve the solution.
To find a solution, market research for innovation needs to do the following:
- Understand the group of people who need to get a job done.
- Understand the functional job and what steps consumers employ to get the job done.
- Place your business within the proposed solution — where can you help?
- Define your impact by solving the job that needs doing, and focus on innovation in that area.
By meeting these criteria, a business can have an agile innovation approach.
Next, you need to define the market and the context. We suggest a research phase up front to help define the market and uncover needs qualitatively (through observation, mobile ethnography and depth interviews). Then, quantify or verify where rational, emotional and interactional needs are being underserved or overserved. This is where opportunities can be discovered so that the innovation team can devise a solution to address those unmet needs.
Questions to ask of your brand
Along the way, you need to keep interrogating the problem to find the most innovative solution. Think about:
- What is the customer trying to do? (Not what the company wants to do)
- How do they want to feel?
- Are they looking for experience factors? Buying something? Setting up or installing something? What are the job steps?
- Does one set of jobs form other interactional jobs (such as driving, shopping, cooking and cleaning) that can also be observed and innovated upon?
Importantly, focusing on research well ahead of the ideation process allows you to understand the customer, their needs and the steps where new opportunities lurk. From a business perspective, it allows you to think about how to re-purpose, realign or reposition existing products before the expense of creating new products. This is not only agile but can deliver a significant return on investment.
Qualitative research and uncovering needs
So, what are the types of qualitative market research for innovation? Let’s run through a few major types.
- Mobile self ethnography — Where consumers show us their behaviours and tell us about their experiences. The ability to harness modern technology in the form of Zoom or other live one-on-one webcam technology or streaming allows us to perform the observation process quicker and without interviewer intervention (or at least less intervention).
We can ask some of our consumers to create TikTok footage to help us understand feelings and moods instead of just image collages. This works as a treat with younger audiences (or the young at heart!). We can also record and clip the video for insertion into PowerPoint or video reports.
- In-depth interviews — The one-on-one interview can allow us to interview during and after the actual behaviours we want to observe. The idea is to ensure we conduct the processes in great detail. The interview (following observation) allows for understanding all the rational, emotional and interactional needs; shopping, cooking, cleaning, running, using our products or brands, using our competitors, and critiquing. The method allows for lots of ways into consumer observation.
We can also send products in a product placement exercise, allowing consumers to open and evaluate new products and prototypes and ground them in real life.
- Qualitative co-creation — Focus groups are designed to allow consumers to build on raw ideas or concepts to create the innovation that fits their needs and context. This is useful for identifying many raw ideas (if you end up with those) and optimising the best for quantitative testing.
Quantifying needs and trade-offs
While qualitative approaches will always garner more detailed customer insights, powerful and effective innovation consultancy also uses quantitative data to understand broader trends within a core customer demographic.
Some of these approaches include:
Agile product screens
Simple, fast online surveys used to screen multiple (say 20) raw product ideas.
A more strategic online survey that may employ one of the following techniques:
- MaxDiff analysis — MaxDiff is about how people make choices. Respondents evaluate all possible pairs of items within the displayed set and choose the pair that reflects the maximum difference in preference or importance.
- 2AFC method — Two-alternative forced choice is a method for measuring a person’s subjective experience through their pattern of choices and response times. The subject is presented with two alternative options (often product features) and then asked to choose which one is the preferred option.
- Conjoint analysis — Used to determine how people value different attributes (feature, function, benefits) that make up an individual product or service. The objective of conjoint analysis is to determine what combination of a limited number of attributes most influences respondent choice or decision-making.
Through a combination of targeting quantitative testing, methods and analysis, and carefully targeted qualitative research, market research for innovation can diagnose the immediate challenges for your brand and jobs to be done. With this knowledge, brand innovation can then work to craft genuine solutions that place your business at the core of the problem-solving method.
With the brand innovation services from Little Fish and Ruby Cha Cha, you can harness the power of market research for innovation in your business’s future strategy. You can only benefit by creating a better product or service offering for your clients, anticipating and meeting their needs.
Want to know more?
Ready to work with an innovation consultancy firm that can help you get ahead? We thought you’d never ask. To take advantage of Ruby Cha Cha’s brand innovation and market research services, call us on +612 80946800 or get in touch with us today.
We look forward to starting a conversation with you about how market research for innovation can change the way you do business for the better.