When is the last time you used a product or service and were bothered, frustrated or confused about how it performs its intended task? Did you ever say, ‘I wish this would …,’ ‘it would be great if this …,’ ‘I hate it when …,’ ‘It bugs me when…?’ If so, you created an insight; a need that you have that opens up an opportunity for a brand to create a strong and relevant concept.
The first step in developing any concept is understanding consumer insights. That is, understanding their mindset, behavior and attitudes within their day to day lives, and/or a category or interaction with a brand or product. This may sound basic and obvious but it is surprising how little time is spent doing this for many brands. However, the investment of time and effort gathering insights will yield rich results in the future for any brand.Insights don’t just fall in your lap … consumers will not tell you what a new product should be or what challenges they face, they don’t think about their behavior or what they are doing. They do what they need to do to get a task done often creating ‘work arounds’ if a product doesn’t do exactly what they want it to. This is best achieved by observational research:
- This could be completely immersive ethnographic work that is longitudinal in nature and witnesses’ behavior over days, weeks or longer.
- Most often, this is accomplished with in-home/in-store/in-location work where consumers are interviewed in a location (home, store, exercise class, bar, etc.) during a particular time of day, doing a particular activity of interest, interacting with others, etc.
- This could be done in person or on-line or both and could incorporate video homework, digital diary/blogging for homework or a host of other techniques to get to actual, real attitudes and behavior to drive insights.
Whatever the technique, it is important for the team to witness the behaviors, the problems, the work arounds, the “I wishes” and “It would be great ifs.” Seeing and understanding the challenges they face first hand will create the foundation for creating relevant and compelling concepts based on a real consumer need. By doing the ‘homework’ here and understanding consumer insights fully, the Team will minimize the risk of failure.
Turn Insights into Ideas and Solutions
Once the team has a real consumer driven need, mindset or behavior, the team can begin to develop ideas that help to solve this need. As the team begins to explore ideas, there are a few things to keep in mind that may impact an idea’s success.
- Are there work arounds or behaviors that need to be changed? If so, it is important to understand how ingrained the behaviors are and how challenging it may be to change them
- Does the idea solve the problem in a relevant way? It is important the concept is relevant to their life and what they do.
- Does the idea fit the brand equity? While the team may develop an idea, if it does not fit the brand it may be a disconnect for consumers.
- Does the technology exist to create a product in a cost effective way? The solution will need to be as cost effective as their work around is now or it will ‘not be worth it.’
- Are there claims or proof points that provide consumers a reason to believe the idea will deliver the solution they want? If the team is truly solving a problem for consumers, they need solid, reliable proof the product will do what it promises.
Remember, insights are not internally driven, they are consumer driven. If the team finds itself with a product or idea that came up through R&D or from management chances are that, if it does not solve a problem or fit into a mindset or behavior consumers have, the idea may fail in execution.
While there are no guarantees, if the team uses consumer insights as their guide to concept development, the relevance and interest in those ideas should drive success and brand growth in the future.
Brian Fletcher is the VP of Qualitative Research at Insights in Marketing, where he uses his outgoing nature and love of junk food to make research participants feel right at home. Check out some of his top tips for leading qualitative research, or learn more about Brian here.