From the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan
If only it were as easy as asking consumers what they want in order to identify new product opportunities and extensions… but they may not know what they need or want until it’s presented to them. So it’s left to us marketers to identify white space opportunities. Here are three great ways to get started:
- Observe consumers using your product(s) in a real-life setting. Consumers become accustomed to products as they are, and often find workarounds or ways to adapt them to better meet their needs. They may do this without even thinking about it or being aware of it. That’s why watching them use products in a natural setting is so key. DRA conducted in-home observations of Moms actually changing diapers in order to uncover challenges and opportunities. As a result our client, a national diaper manufacturer, enhanced and re-engineered their diapers for greater leakage protection and absorbency.
- Have consumers document regular routines with your products. If we just asked consumers to tell us how they use products on a regular basis, they may be apt to leave out some details that may not seem important to them and yet could provide us with some valuable nuggets or insights. DRA has used video journals with great success. For example we had women record daily video journals over the course of a week (i.e., mornings, evenings, weekdays and weekends) to capture their facial care routines, skincare problems they have, which products they use and how satisfied they are with them. The journals along with in-home observations uncovered white space opportunities for a major skin care product manufacturer as well as ideas for optimizing current products and enhancing/refining packaging.
- Have consumers compare your products to competitors’. By using brands of products that they do not typically use, consumers have a context for making observations about their current products and identifying desirable features that may not be available in their usual products. In a 7-day product trial, DRA had consumers replace their current frozen breakfast food favorite with a competitive brand. They kept journals of their experiences identifying product strengths, weaknesses, competitive advantages and recommended enhancements.
So be a fly on the wall, and use one or more of these approaches that will allow you to get inside consumers’ heads and discover their unmet, unexpressed needs.