The Exceptionally Easy & Profitable Uses of Customer Co-creation

One of my clients, who is following the 50 weekly actions for customer centric excellence as described in Winning Customer Centricity, asked me for some further ideas on how to execute customer co-creation.

Since working more closely with customers is the best way to understand, satisfy and delight them, I am impressed that she is taking customer co-creation even further. In fact, I realised that this is an area that many of you may be interested in learning more about, so I decided to share what I told her, but first …

What is Co-creation?

The term co-creation has been around for decades. However, it is only in the last ten years or so that we are seeing a growth in co-creation in so many different areas of marketing.

According to Wikipedia co-creation is

“A management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.”

Personalised M&Ms from customer co-creation
Source: M&Ms

Individualisation, which offers higher-priced items with a customer perceived higher-value, has been popular for years. It allows customers to design their own unique products to show off their personality. For instance, customers can personalise their M&M chocolates and design their own Nike running shoes. But these are not strictly co-creation since they are designed by one person for for one person. Co-creation is designed by many for the many. 

Customer co-creation is designed by many, for the many. #Customer #CustomerCocreation #Cocreation #Innovation Click To Tweet

After the success of such personalised offers, organisations understood that there is value in getting input from customers. They now include them not only in product enhancements, but also in developing their advertising and even in first-stage innovation.

The practice has been further intensified by the internet, which has enabled companies to reach out to customers across the globe, virtually for free. Social media, in particular, is a great source of customer understanding, as well as for highlighting issues with current offers. This is why co-creation should include social media in some form, as I’ll share further on.

 

These are just a few of the best uses of customer co-creation that I remember, but I know there are many more. If you have other examples, I would love you to share them below.

In conclusion, I hope I have inspired you to try customer co-creation and to include them in more of your internal plans and processes. It is not only fun, it also provides you with fresh thinking  and a deeper understanding of how your customers’ needs and desires are changing. Makes you wonder why you haven’t done it before, no?

Need help in setting up your first customer co-creation sessions? Then I can help; contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

 

 

How to get R&D as Excited about Consumer Innovation as you are

Did you do a double-take when you read this post’s title? I bet you did. R&D is at the heart of innovation for most major manufacturers, so they should be excited by consumer underst anding, shouldn’t they? You would think so, but in reality, their concepts are almost always based on the company’s current technical know-how and skills. If you want to break away from this very predictable process and get them excited so they add some “oomph” to your innovations, then read on.

One of my most loyal CPG clients contacted me recently about the latest problem (opportunity?) he has been asked to address: making R&D more consumer centric. Having faced a similar challenge in one of my previous jobs, I immediately empathised with him. It can really be a daunting task, especially when speaking to people who are usually more interested in numbers than emotions.

I remember speaking about consumer centricity at an annual R&D conference and in the discussion session that followed, the Head of Operations commented “You know Denyse, our R&D group is very consumer centric; we know exactly what consumers need. It’s marketing who don’t know how to explain to consumers why they need what we develop!”

Trying to keep a straight face, I thanked him for his comment and also for having just proven my point. I said that I believed it was time for R&D to become more consumer centric by developing a better underst anding of consumers and their needs. I then went on to suggest some ways they could get closer to current or potential consumers. By the end of my talk I had a queue of volunteers wanting me to organise some of the suggested actions for them. Here’s what I shared:

Observe & Listen to your Consumers

Most people working in a company and certainly those working in R&D, know far more about the category than the average consumer. However, most employees – excluding hopefully the insight team – don’t know what their consumers really think about their products and services.

Observation of consumers as they go about their daily lives, helps us to identify pain points, whilst also stimulating new thinking and concepts. Listening to their complaints and ideas, whether online, through carelines or during a market research project, can provide the consumer perspective and input for new or better solutions.

It’s time for R&D to get out of the factory and into the shops & homes of consumers (>>Tweet this<<)

Involve your Consumers

Ben  and Jerry are great at innovationLast year Ben & Jerry asked residents of five cities in the USA to vote for the names of new ice cream flavors that reflected their locales. The br and’s Scoop Truck toured 11 cities and also served as one of the campaigns’ voting platforms. Once consumers had eaten their free frozen treats, they were asked to use their spoons as “ballots” (they voted by depositing their spoons in one of several recycling boxes marked with various ingredient names). Doesn’t that remind you of another br and which used a similar voting tactic when it was starting out – Innocent?

Great br ands and companies have no problem “stealing with pride” and recognise good ideas when they see them (>>Tweet this<<)

Ben & Jerry’s are by no means the only br and to involve their customers in developing or choosing new products and services. Nespresso have been collaborating with their Club members for years on many aspects of their marketing. Whether choosing the end of their commercials or identifying the next new blend to be launched, Nespresso Club members are made to feel important and privileged.

Involving customers in the development of new product and/or service concepts not only makes them feel valued, it also makes them more loyal and valuable advocates of your br ands too (>>Tweet this<<)

Exp and your Thinking

Innovation leversHow do you come up with ideas and concepts for new products and services today? If you are like most companies, they probably come in a majority from your current portfolio of br ands. Whilst this can meet with a certain level of success, as it is what customers expect, or rather dem and, there is another process that can drive even greater success. This is the use of what are often called innovation levers, or what others refer to as “the s and box”. I love the latter term as it suggests light-hearted play, which is an effective way to get people thinking “outside the box”.

Innovation levers enable thinking to “push the envelope” and to exp and outside the box in which R&D and marketing can sometimes find themselves. Rather than thinking about the next flavour or packaging idea, why not consider a new channel or communications strategy?

Coca Cola takes br and innovation seriouslyLast year, Coke used two of these levers, but combined them, when it launched its “sharing can”. Not only can the can be split in two for sharing, it also enables new potential consumers to consider buying a can, such as those with smaller thirsts or those traveling.

This year they took this winning idea a step further and launched the bottle that could only be opened by another Coke bottle – another way of sharing.

Starting from a different innovation lever than the one you usually use can result in more creative NPD concepts (>>Tweet this<<)

Go Beyond Trend Following

Another challenge when looking to make R&D more customer centric, is in moving them from trend following to scenario planning. R&D people often seem to be more comfortable with trends and “poo poo” future scenarios as improbable forecasts. It is therefore important to explain to them that scenario planning is not forecasting. If they can allow themselves to be open to listening to a story, which exposes imaginary but plausible new worlds to them, they can become inspired by the opportunities.

The innovative ideas that are created from scenario planning, have in my experience been amongst the most ground-breaking ever developed. Isn’t that exactly what we would all like to market, rather than the staple diet of predictable renovations?

These are just four ideas that I shared during that conference a few years ago, to stimulate and excite the R&D department. Hopefully they have inspired you too to have a go at convincing your own operations people to get closer to the customer.

Have you other examples of how you got your own R&D people to think outside their technical box? Then I’d love to hear about them, so please share your thoughts and ideas below.

Need help in taking your innovation outside its box, or in connecting with your customers? Let’s discuss how we can help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us today.

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Ben &Jerry’s and Coke in this post.

This post has been adapted from one first published on C³Centricity in June 2013

Can you (Re) Gain Trust?

Over the last few months we have heard many sc andals based upon the disappointing discovery of unfounded consumer loyalty and trust. Rigged football matches, numerous athletes taking illegal drugs and more recently the horse meat sc andal. Have you ever been faced with a loss of your customers’ trust in business? If so, or you believe that it could happen in the future, then this post is for you.

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer report, published last month, concluded that there are clear signs of a leadership crisis in both business and government. In fact in many recent sc andals, leaders have not helped the situation when speaking out.

For instance, in the current horsemeat sc andal, several food manufacturers confirmed that their beef products did not contain horse-meat, only to withdraw their statements a few days later. What did they think they were doing? Trust is one of the most important elements of purchase and loyalty; it is difficult to win but so much easier to lose, as many companies have recently realised. In the end it comes down to being truly customer centric. Wouldn’t a customer prefer to hear a “We don’t know but we’re checking” rather than a categorical “No” that is replaced by an equally categorical but rather feeble “Yes” a few days, or even hours later.

As Donald Porter, V.P. at British Airways once said:

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong”

So why do so many companies have such problems with telling the truth? If you make a mistake, then own up and correct it: your customers will forgive you and forget it. And more importantly, your owning up to the event will confirm their belief that they can trust you in the future. They will continue to buy your products and services with confidence, trusting that they will live up to your promises.

If you pretend that things are OK when they are really not, you are more than likely to get found out eventually. An employee will talk, a government or industry association will run tests and you will be discovered lacking.

With all these sc andals of what one might call dishonesty, touching so many different industries, this seems to be a good time to talk about building, keeping and regaining your customers’ trust. Here is my starter list of five areas to review, but please add your own to the comments below:

#1. Prepare

Have you already identified the worst possible scenarios that could happen to your industry, your business, your br and? Do you know precisely how you would react in each and every case? When an incident happens it is already too late and the damage has started. By identifying upfront what may happen in each possible event, you have sufficient time to identify potential risks before issues reach dangerous levels.

#2. Measure

Another factor of preparedness is to identify and to follow metrics that will provide you with an early warning system. When levels of certain critical elements get close to precise limits, you again have time to react before damage is done. Think about customer complaints, quality rejects, machine down-time, industry legal cases, whether yours or your competitors.

#3. Assign

For each critical incident identified, assign jobs to people in all relevant departments. Who will communicate, both internally and externally? Who will adapt and replace sub-optimal products and services? Who will develop and launch new ones?

#4. Practice

As with fire drills, exercises of disaster recovery can identify missing elements, whether time, money, or people. These can then be addressed well before they may be needed. No point in wishing you’d bought that extinguisher when the fire breaks out!

#5. Engage

As with measurement, engaging your customers, partners, employees and even competitors in building industry trust will ensure that it will survive any crisis. However, at a company and br and level, customer and employee engagement becomes particularly important, since competition is often secretly hoping you will badly manage a negative situation, from which they might then benefit. By keeping communication open 24/7 you are much more likely to be able to respond without delay and in many cases even prevent issues from escalating into a full blown crisis.

If football and cycle team managers had kept to their jobs of management, and trying to be the best they could be without resorting to bribes, drugs or other illegal practices, then the sports would not be where they are today. If food manufacturers had chosen to make food that they would happily give to their families instead of cutting costs to a maximum, then they too would not be facing the current sc andal. Unfortunately, these events damage not only those concerned, but the wider industries at large.

Sports sponsorship will be under much tighter scrutiny and perhaps some br ands will decide to move to other sports or forms of promotions in the future. Sales of prepared dishes containing beef are significantly down in Europe already and this will result in lower prices for wholesalers and eventually also for the farmers. According to Reuters, a recent poll run by Consumer Intelligence in the UK, showed that more than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of the recent incident, so in fact the whole food industry has been impacted.

Luckily, not every industry or company has been doing their business without regard for honesty and living up to their customers’ trust in them. Some companies underst and the importance of winning and then keeping this trust. Ford recently issued a booklet about the Top 2013 Trends of importance to them and their number one trend was trust, or as they quoted it “Trust is the new Black”. In their description of it, they mention that “Correlation of trust to br and equity increased by 35% in three years since the (economic) crisis”. If that isn’t a reason to build trust, I don’t know what is!

For more information about building trust and increasing br and equity, check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

Or why not give us a call to see how we can support your own initiatives in (re) gaining your customers’ trust. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

 

5 Tips for Global Project Management

One of my global clients recently called me about a problem her team was having implementing a process change within her organisation. After a long conversation, during which I gave her some tips on global project management, she was happy to continue the work with renewed enthusiasm.

If you are facing a similar challenge at the moment, you should find these five ideas I shared with her, to be of use.

#1. Involve the markets

This particular client works for a leading consumer packaged goods company in their London headquarters. One of the biggest challenges a global organisation can face when introducing process changes, is getting market buy-in, even when centralised.

My suggestion was to invite five to ten market representatives to work on the project team with her. Whilst a face-to-face meeting or two will be needed in the beginning, the project can usually continue with conference calls or webinars once it is under way. I also suggested taking a selection of markets from her different regions and not just the major ones, which always seem to be chosen due to their importance. This will reduce, but perhaps not totally eliminate a “it won’t work in our market” type of reaction which could slow down or even exclude adoption, especially by emerging markets.

#2. Allow for culture

When working in a global or regional environment, we often wrongly assume that everyone is making allowances for cultural differences. For this reason it is vital to double-check underst anding and agreement at every major milestone and before each new step is started. Although there is often an over-simplification of cultural differences made, such as Asians tend to always agree, Germans are not flexible, or Americans are opinionated, it still remains true that people think differently. The advantage of a diverse project team is that it includes people with differing perspectives, so make sure everyone appreciates the diversity, listens and adapts to it as appropriate.

#3. Involve different departments

I am amazed at just how many projects can be running simultaneously in large organisations. Whilst this should not be surprising with today’s dem and for rapid change and continuous innovation, I am always disappointed that in most cases, only the members of the department working on the project are aware of it. This may appear normal until one realises that most projects have impact beyond just departmental borders and sometimes can in fact actually be redundant. Let me give you an example.

I was once developing a proposal for a customer information integration programme and I discovered that there were four separate projects that were already running on similar areas to my project. And none of the departments were aware of the others’ projects! R&D was developing a st andard customer complaint classification; finance was harmonising category and br and definitions; market research was developing a tool for analysing customer call content and customer services were updating their platform.

I am sure you can see the value there would be in the departments collaborating together in order to avoid duplication of effort. Luckily, I was able to integrate and prioritise all five projects, making each department responsible for their specific part of the whole development. Everyone felt good about it because they saw the implications of the integration, and realised that the impact of the combined project would be greater than that of each separate plan alone.

#4. Think forward

Even when different departments are collaborating, there can still be an issue with taking the bigger picture. This is particularly important when planning for future expansion. I have witnessed several projects fall short of their potential, by not considering the future needs as well as todays. Are all areas going to exp and? Will customers have different needs? Will the company have different needs, different partners, or different categories and br ands? All of these can impact a project’s system and platform in the long-term and need to be considered before anything is developed.

#5. Over-communicate

Especially when the project team is spread across the world, it is vital to keep everyone informed about progress. In addition to the conference calls and webinars mentioned above, status reports with input from all areas on a regular basis will ensure that everyone underst ands how their part builds into the whole. It also shows that they are responsible for the success of the total project, as they will see the impact of delays or changes they initiate.

These are just five of the tips that I shared with my client and I am looking forward to hearing from her soon, that the project is now back on track and advancing successfully.

What other tips would you have given her? Please add a comment below.

If you are looking to improve your own global project management and knowledge sharing processes, please contact us for an informal chat. No Obligation, just Inspiration!

For more ideas on process development, knowledge sharing and many other topics on customer centricity, why not sign up for our weekly email and monthly newsletter? Just complete the form on the right of our homepage: https://www.c3centricity.com/ 

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

 

Successful Innovation comes from answering Desires not Needs

What is the difference between a need and a desire? Emotion, that’s what. A need is something for which someone has a necessity; a desire is something they want or crave, whether they know it or not.

There are the three main types of products or services that companies offer; it is important that you underst and the difference between them as well as what you are offering or planning to innovate, if you are to be successful.

Some organisations speak about articulated, unarticulated and unimagined needs, but they miss the power of emotions if they are considering all three as simply needs to be addressed. Unless there is an emotional connection between what you are selling and what your customer perceives he is buying, you are likely to remain at the level of a commodity, or at best are restricted in the price you can charge. Only emotional connection brings passion into the equation, when customers desire or crave your product or service and are willing to pay (almost) anything to have it.

Examples of Great Emotional Connection

Think about Apple as a great example of a company that brings passion into their products, so that potential customers pre-order or spend the night queuing in front of the shop in order to have the privilege to give Apple their money in exchange for the latest gadget.

Now I love Apple as much as most people, but are their products really worth more than their competitors? Was the iPod really that much better for listening to music on the go? Probably not, but it is their customers’ desire to be a part of the Apple “family” that makes them crave their products.

Another example is Marlboro cigarettes. Do they really taste better than other br ands? Maybe, but it is not the taste (alone) that makes smokers remain loyal to the br and; rather a feeling of community and adherence to a desired image.

And speaking of taste, what about colas? The now famous brain imaging study run by Baylor College of Medicine – you can read more about it here – showed that consumers thought Pepsi tasted better that Coke, but there was something very different happening in the brain when consumers thought they were drinking Coke or Pepsi. It was what the consumers were thinking that made the difference, a result of br anding.

So what can you do to make your customers think differently about your br and, so that they remain loyal to it, desire it and even crave your product or service? Bring in and stimulate their emotions; here are four ideas on how this can be done:

#1. Make them feel special, different, privileged

This can be achieved through:

  • higher prices – many premium and luxury products are priced more on image than on cost and their customers are happy to pay more for the associated image that has been created
  • membership to a br and club with special privileges – Nespresso is a great example of this; their clients get to order online and even get asked their opinion or to choose new flavours
  • personalised offers – unlike clubs, these are offered to a wider group of purchasers (on a mailing list for example) but the wording of communication and the offers proposed are personalised to each target group, so they are perceived as more personal

#2. Stimulate more of your customers’ senses

So that competitive products are disappointing in comparison. As Nigel Hollis, Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown, mentioned in his blog post Sensory br anding and sensible questions, “The research conducted for BRANDSense confirms that memories of the sensory br and experience do have an important role to play in encouraging br and loyalty. The stronger, more positive and differentiating, people’s sensory memories are of a br and, the more likely they will be to consider it for repeat purchase”. For example:

  • add sound and texture to a food through a hard coating, as many ice-creams offer today
  • provide extra sensations in the mouth through additional ingredients; c andy and chewing-gum often offer these as new sensations
  • surprise through special perfumes for household products; remember the popularity of “green apple” a few years back?
  • astonish with unusual colours for personal care products; have you tried the range of Pantene colours, the shampoo I mean!
  • amaze through special textures of creams or clothing; luxury face products are often claimed to have a richer, creamier or more “melting” texture.

#3. Involve your customers in the innovation process

Even if your customers don’t always know or can’t express what they want, they are usually much clearer about what they don’t want. Listen to them describe their experiences with your product or service category and the pain-points they have. What do they like, dislike; what would they change? And more widely, what do they think about the category, their situation when needing or using your product or service, what feelings they have using ir?

By getting them involved from the start, you are much more likely to satisfy their rational needs and emotional desires, AND you will encourage discussion as they share their experiences with their friends, family and perhaps even wider on the web.

#4. Build excitement through communications

Many products and services are launched with a “teaser” campaign that sets and builds customers’ expectations for weeks, if not months before launch. This certainly can make your target audience excited with anticipation, but the new product must deliver on its promises.

Remember the launch of the completely redesigned BMW Series 5 in Europe about 10 years ago, which had to be quickly replaced with the older design when current owners rejected the modernisation? Or what about the more recent launch of the BMW 5 Series GT in the US, which had 5 Series Touring customers running to rival Mercedes-Benz and many current Series 7 owners downgrading to the cheaper car? As with any product or service, you must deliver what is promised and this becomes doubly important if you fire your future customers with excitement for the new launch.

These are just four ways in which you can bring more emotion into your innovations; I know there are many more, so why not share your own experiences here? We would love to hear how you have brought more emotion into your products and services.

For more on Innovation, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

If you are struggling to bring emotion into your products or communications, please contact us, we can certainly help support you through advice or a 1-Day Catalyst session. NO obligation, just a great OPPORTUNITY!

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

Walking the Talk of Customer Centricity

Do you ever get frustrated that although everyone in your organisation claims to underst and the importance of placing the customer at the heart of the business, nobody seems to be really “walking the talk” of customer centricity? If so, then this post is for you.

Thanks to Stan Knoops from Unilever, I recently came across a great video produced by their Insight Team. It is part of a series of Unilever consumer connect programs and presents a new way for connecting their R&D people at Unilever Vlaardingen to consumers. It shows how to engage and inspire a complete organisation of R&D with consumer insights and is a highly inspirational film.

This got me thinking about the problems that many- or should I say most? – organisations have to get all employees engaged and interested in better underst anding their customers. To help get them started on this essential road to customer centricity, I came up with these 6 points:

#1. Put customer connection in everyone’s annual objectives

This can be left open, or specified such as watching a certain number of focus groups or in-depth interviews, accompanying a certain number of customers whilst they shop for or use your product or service, or listening – and why not also manning, after training? – your care centres or websites.

#2. Conduct co-creation or co-elaboration sessions

Whilst it is good to get people close to your customers, you can also help the company with the development of new products, services or communications, by inviting your customers to join meetings and planning sessions. This is both fun and exciting for your customers and inspiring for company employees. And don’t forget the positive publicity and word of mouth you additionally get, since the participants will certainly talk about their experience to their friends and colleagues

#3. Work on the front line

If marketing, sales, supply chain or another department is struggling to find a solution or new development idea, put them on the front line, to talk to customers directly. If you have your own retail outlets this can be relatively easy to organise. However, even if you don’t it can still be done, with a little planning.

I remember when I first started working at Philip Morris International, I spent a week on the road with a sales representative. Not only did I see first h and some of the issues he faced in selling in his stock, but also learnt a lot from the retailers with whom we discussed. I also began to underst and consumers’ mentally whether smokers or non-smokers, when we were offering free samples in bars and cafés (not sure this goes on today, as I am speaking about 30+ years ago!) Being on the front line is both an inspiring and humbling experience and I just wish that more organisations gave this training, both to new hires, as well as all employees on a regular basis.

#4. Get out of the office

When I worked for Gillette many years ago, all br and managers had to spend one day every two weeks in the field, watching. I am not sure that many organisations still send their staff out of their offices on a regular basis – with a few notable and infamous exceptions of course – but since customers can be and often are, totally unlike the people in your organisation, it is difficult for them to appreciate the customers’ perspective.

Whether it is a difference of age, background, culture, wealth or experience, it is unlikely that the people taking the decisions about your br ands really know what their customers feel. So get them to stop sitting in their Ivory Towers and get out into the real world occasionally.

#5. Listen to the frontline staff

When was the last time you invited your promotions staff or retailers to join a meeting? Unfortunately today, many companies don’t even use their own staff to man promotions and sampling, s the wealth of information about how the events have gone and how potential customers appreciated the offer, is lost.

#6. Share the knowledge

In addition to gathering information and knowledge about your customers, it should be regularly shared so that everyone benefits from each other’s learnings. The latest topics customers are calling or writing in about can be visibly published to stimulate everyone’s thinking; how about putting weekly summaries on the notice board, at the lift, in the restaurant waiting area or anywhere else in your offices where a maximum number of people can be inspired by the information? Or what about holding monthly “lunch and learn” sharing sessions during the mid-day break, in a relaxed, fun and creative environment? A free lunch will get people more involved but won’t take valuable time out of their working day.

I hope this “Starter for 6” has got you thinking about ways that you might start walking the talk of customer centricity in your own organisation. If you are using other methods to get your company to put the customer at the heart of the business, please share them here.

If you would like to learn more about targeting, connecting with and underst anding your own customers, please check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

STOP Emotional Innovation!

Last week, I posted about making innovations more emotional; if you didn’t see it, you can find it here. Today, I want to speak about the other side of emotional innovation; how to STOP some of your own emotions, when launching new products.

One Sunday last Summer I had been planning a lie-in, like most of us do when we don’t have to get up for work at the weekends. However, I was woken up very early by one of my cats who came to proudly show me that she had caught a bat! 

Both my cats love hunting and I have to say they are (too) good at it! They give me frequent “presents” that I discretely dispose of, unless of course they are alive, in which case I have to catch them and return them to the wild outdoors, whilst the two of them continue to sniff around the last place in which they had seen their prey.

Anyway, my cat Apricot – a female ginger – was really excited about her very rare capture, which is why she had woken me up to show me. Of course, I was less than enthusiastic about a bat flying around my bedroom at five in the morning! Luckily when I switched on my bedside lamp, the light quietened it down and when he stopped flying, to hang on the wall, I was able to catch him and put him back outside where be belonged.

 

Do your innovations excite you or your customer?

Now awake, my mind started musing on the very large differences in the reactions of my cat and me, to this event. She was excited, happy and proud; I was surprised, disappointed and irritated that I had to stop what I was doing – sleeping – to attend to her “present”.

I think something similar happens sometimes when companies launch new products or services. Everyone in the organisation gets excited about their innovation or renovation, are proud to have developed it and happy that after all the hard word, it is finally ready for launch. The customer on the other h and, can be surprised, which is great if this is accompanied by pleasure, or disappointed if the promise is not delivered. However, he might also be irritated if his usual br and or version has been replaced and is no longer available, or at least no longer on the shelf or store in which he usually finds it. We are in fact asking him to work, to change his habits, which no human being really enjoys, even when it is for the better.

 

5 Questions for winning innovations

So how can you make your new product development more customer-centric? By starting from your target customers’ perspective, and by answering these five questions:

  1. How are your customers currently using your product or service? What are their pain points if any; price, packaging, size, availability, sensorial experience – taste, aroma, colour, sound, feel?
  2. Who is currently changing or has already changed their habits to compensate for these pain points? Your current regular users, occasional users, lapsed users, competitive br and users?
  3. What are your current customers doing to face their pain points? Are they only buying on promotion, buying several small packs at a time, buying a replacement br and, buying elsewhere, adding their own ingredients?
  4. Where would they rank each of the identified pain points in terms of priority and acceptability? Can they cope with buying less often to get it at a cheaper price? Do they have a “portfolio” of acceptable br ands from which to choose in the category? Do they transfer your product into another container for ease of serving?
  5. When do the pain points become so unacceptable that your customers would consider changing br ands or adapting their behaviour? Are there psychological price barriers in the category or for your br and? Are there category st andards of colour, size or packaging that need to be obeyed – or perhaps even broken?

Obviously best-in-class innovation and renovation starts with the target customer in mind; their rational needs AND emotional desires.

Based on the answers to these five questions, the most relevant products and services can be proposed and are then more likely to be met with positive excitement, pride and happiness, rather than negative surprise, disapointment, irritation and frustration.

 

Involve your customers in your innovation

A further idea about customer-centric innovation is to actually involve your customers along the whole process. Many organisations now run what are called “co-creation” or “co-elaboration” sessions, where ideas are shared with and then further developed with customers in live sessions, either in person or over the web. How about co-creating your next new product idea with your customers? That way you know it will delight them even before you launch.

Do you have any other points you would add to the above list? Have you had success in co-creating a product or new service recently? Please share your experiences, I would love to hear about them.

This post first appeared on April 28th 2011 in C3Centricity Comments

More information on improving your innovation and conducting co-creation sessions can be found here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Post Navigator Supported By WordPress Navigator Plugin
Send this to a friend