Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

The Digital Age Demands A Steady Ideation Regimen for CPG Companies

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Technology companies have set the bar high when it comes to expediency in new product innovation. What’s more, the products/services offered have contributed to a consumer mindset of instant gratification (in terms of shopping for and/or receipt of goods and services); and expectation for immediate and constant digital interaction with the companies from which they buy.

Interestingly, it is this perpetual customer-company communication nLDBlogPost1.ARTorm that is playing a notable role in new product demand within the CPG industry. As observed by Cisco Systems, Inc., “…the [CPG] shopper becomes a major driver of innovation through e-commerce, omnichannel retailing and mobile platforms. Based on the increasing demands of its end users, companies have found they must create new products, achieve faster time to market and lower operational costs to remain competitive”.1 Additionally, Cisco cites one in five consumers as saying they are always looking for new products, the implication being that innovative merchandise is a significant basis for growth.

To this end, ongoing, deliberate idea generation is of paramount importance. The benefits of creating ideas regularly – rather than once every few years – is threefold:

Assures relevant ideas are always in the pipeline: Today’s constant customer-company interaction provides opportunity for discovering a wealth of compelling consumer insights, with new and interesting points of view streaming in regularly. Routinely scheduled brainstorming sessions using newly discovered insights assures relevant ideas are always on-the-ready to test with consumers.

Allows for creative depth: Regularly scheduled ideation sessions focusing on a few insights at a time allows for richer creative exploration. The result is stronger, more compelling ideas for consumer consideration.

Encourages and maintains a large quantity of ideas: While you may only need one good idea, continually creating many is essential. Statistically of course, a larger number of ideas increases the odds of hitting on a winning idea. Equally important however is recognizing quantity as a divergence technique. When brainstorming, the obvious ideas come out first. By pushing for quantity, you break out-of-the-box and reach higher levels of innovation.

Maybe your pipeline is already packed. No matter. Run regular ideation sessions to assess, modify and build upon what you’ve got. Try looking at the ideas using new consumer insights or market findings as creative lenses. Create all the ways an idea might be changed or re-created to be relevant again, considering the new findings. Keep your company’s creative juices flowing and you’re sure to stay in step with your consumer and boost your bottom line.


1  Ó 2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. White Paper, Cisco Public Information

Finding Familiar Among the Foreign: Strengthening the Connection Between Customers and New Products

Posted on: October 25th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt, Doyle Research Associates


Every product developer or brand manager’s worst nightmare is that the innovations they launch don’t move a muscle and, instead, “collect dust” whether on the real or virtual sales shelf.  Many of these products didn’t start out that way.

At the Institute of Food Technologists’ show this past summer, algae generated considerable attention as an important new ingredient, bountiful and cheap. Imagine the possibilities, they say! Envision the cool new foods! Try these algae cubes…here’s a delicious algae milk…wait until you taste these algae tubes, a cool new snack. As experienced researchers, we instantly recognized the cautious enthusiasm among fellow innovators at the show, also prospective shoppers/buyers. “Oh yeah, this is amazing,” they stated loudly for colleagues to hear, “I’d buy this for sure.”

Don’t get me wrong here. I am passionate about innovation. I salivate over being part of the fuzzy front end and new-to-the-world product development. But as a skilled observer of human behaviors, I find myself warning that while new for the sake of “innovation” may generate excitement, excitement alone does not generate sales.

So what’s a product developer to do? To succeed with new—the foreign—among shoppers/buyers, there also needs to be the familiar. What this means is that when you have an innovative proposition, there need to be elements of familiarity to help the shopper/customer know, for example, how to use the product, understand why to buy the product, or grasp when to use the product. Take that same algae and blend it into a smoothie, and now, hmmmm, that’s not so weird, is it?

A great example is the new savory Greek yogurts (cucumber, olive oil, mint and basil, anyone?).  I project we will see these products in mainstream consumers’ refrigerators. While the savory flavor profiles are certainly new to, and unexpected in, this category (the foreign), the billion-dollar Greek yogurt industry is already wildly popular with consumers as a healthier, protein-centric food (the familiar). This combination peaks consumers’ interest while simultaneously instilling intuitive confidence to try these new entries, half the challenge of a new product launch. Even the emerging recreational marijuana industry recognizes this behavior as proprietors in recreationally-legal marijuana states are introducing novices to pot via familiar gummi and jelly bean edibles to make that trial hurdle more palatable, literally and figuratively!

The foreign, but familiar principle even applies, in this hot election season, to a segment of voters feeling disenfranchised because of the perceived loss of a conventional value system amongst rapid changes in technology, modern families, the gender identity spectrum, a global economy, etc. These voters favor candidates that promise a return to the familiar “good old days,” the “way it was,” gaining comfort and confidence in familiar themes and values.

Familiar gives comfort to shoppers/buyers. It helps them connect emotionally with your product, whether it’s via form, flavor, or use/application.  This principle works in reverse, too. When you launch familiar, e.g., a new chip, you need foreign to stand out, attract attention, and move the purchase needle. How about those sriracha potato chips!

So when introducing new-to-the-world products, or even trying to distinguish your brand in a sea of competitors, consider the foreign, yet familiar principle to help your target customer relate to or connect with your product entries.

Can Market Research Be Delivered Cheaper, Faster AND Better?

Posted on: June 28th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

I had the pleasure of attending IIeX North America in Atlanta June 13-15.   It has become a “go to” market research conference for me, always providing a window into the future of our industry, from bothgoodfastcheap1 the client’s and research partner’s perspective.

This year, what I heard over and over was that clients expect their research partners to provide results cheaper, faster AND better.     For years, standard wisdom has been that clients could expect two of three, but never all three.   If you wanted the research to be better, you would have to sacrifice either cost or speed.   That is about to change.

Taking a peek into the (not so distant) future, the market research industry is beginning to embrace automation.   It is now possible to get machine translation of a multitude of languages almost instantly, and a human translation within 24 hours.   Audio and video clips can be instantly transcribed, allowing researchers to quickly search for and clip highlights to incorporate into a final deliverable. Text analytics is getting so robust that I actually heard clients say, in effect, “ if a machine can write the report, let it.   I am hiring you for study design, and for finding the insights and translating them into a story that helps us make decisions.”

DIY recruiting, DIY mobile surveys, automated incentive payments… exhibitors offering each of these was present at the conference, and their offerings were impressive.

So, while I still believe you get what you pay for, it is in our best interests as research partners to automate any activities that are repetitive, and that hinder us from being thinkers vs. doers.

Be A Fly on the Wall! 3 Ways to Identify White Space Opportunities

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by doyle

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:

  1. 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.LighteningInBottle
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

IIeX Recap: Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by doyle

alice at conferenceFrom the desk of Alice Morgan

IIeX, has become the go-to conference about innovation in the market research space. It’s fantastic, a crash course in the new and now.

Main takeways:

  • Quant surveys need to be short, easy, fast and fun.
  • Play nice with big data. IT is your friend.
  • Mobile ethnography generates rich, lively, in-the-moment insights in today’s selfie society.
  • Indirect, out-of-the-box qualitative methods such as empathy and improvisation yield great stuff.

During the IIeX Innovation Competition, startups vied for a cash prize. Fetch has a cool grocery shopping app that enables you to apply discounts, keep a running tally of what you’re spending, and express checkout. reduces survey fatigue by turning surveys into games. Sway conducts surveys within various gaming apps and provides results lickety-split.   Other platforms to watch out for include Digsite, an online qualitative community with the look and feel of social media. And Ditto uses complex mathematical models to code and analyze photos, identifying patterns and brand associations in the process.

Google (aka the elephant in the room) gave a reassuring presentation about how despite – or perhaps because of – Big Data, there will still be a need for surveys. The audience breathed a collective sigh of relief!

I presented “Kicking the Tires: the Automotive Path to Purchase” which analyzed new car-buyers’ experiences at the dealership and showcased Doyle’s cutting-edge mobile technique Geo-Stories℠. We appreciated the opportunity to present.

Many thanks to Leonard Murphy and the Greenbook team for planning and hosting such an outstanding learning opportunity.