Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Want big ideas? Find your flow!

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m not creative”? Worse yet, how many times have you thought that of yourself? Society has forever defined creativity as a natural gift primarily embodied by artistic types. But science suggests otherwise.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has coined a state of being called “Flow” as an important contributor to creativity, and a state anyone can achieve. It is a form of intrinsic motivation to pursue an activity (doing something because you love it) where self-consciousness is lost, one surrenders completely to the moment, and time means nothing.1 Plainly, a Flow State is when you are so involved in an endeavor that you are thoroughly absorbed and focused, losing all track of time and mental preoccupations. It is important to note that Flow pursuits are not synonymous with all leisure activities. Flow inducing pursuits need to be challenging, goal oriented, providing of feedback, and enjoyable to YOU. Watching TV or visiting with a friend are leisure activities, while Flow ventures are:

·      Physical activities like sports, dance, martial arts, etc.

·      Playing music

·      Arts and crafts

·      Gardening

·      Cooking/baking

·      Writing

·      DIY projects

·      Scrapbooking

·      And so on…

So how does Flow trigger creative thinking? Neurobiology. When in a state of Flow, brainwaves slow down and allow the uncensored blending of unrelated thoughts, thereby giving our brains a subconscious, lateral thinking workout. Flow also triggers the production of large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin — all pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing chemicals with considerable impacts on creativity.2 What’s more, not only are you more creative during Flow, your creativity is heightened the day after being in a Flow state, according to research done by Professor Theresa Amiable of Harvard Business School.3

Here are three practical ways to use Flow as fuel towards big ideas:

Sow n’ Flow: Jot down a problem or challenge for which you need a solution, framed using an idea starter like, “in what ways might I/we…” or “what are all the ways I/we could…”. Then set it aside and don’t think about it. Now get into your Flow. When you are deep into your Flow state, solutions to the problem/challenge seed you planted earlier are likely to emerge. When they do, quickly capture them (e.g. write them down or dictate them) – no matter how absurd – then continue in your flow. DO NOT stop and think about the ideas that surface. When you’re finished with your Flow activity, revisit the thoughts you captured (within a day or two) and use them as inspiration to address your problem or challenge.

Flow Today, Go Tomorrow: Make the conscious decision to engage in a Flow activity one day or several consecutive days before a planned brainstorming session. There’s no need to think about the subject of the brainstorming while you’re “Flowing”. Rather, the purpose of achieving a Flow state in this application is to warm-up and prepare your mind for the forthcoming creative engagement.

Flow Frequently: Keep your creative thinking skills in tip-top shape by engaging in Flow activities often. By subconsciously igniting and exercising your creative thinking ability via Flow, you’re essentially practicing being creative. And, the more you practice, the better you get!, December 16, 2016

2,, February 25, 2014






IIeX 2017: A Qualitative Recap

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by doyle


Once again, I attended what I have come to consider the premiere event for MR’s who are interested in staying abreast of trends, the IIeX Conference in Atlanta.   A combination of excellent presentations as well as a very robust exhibit experience – often with vendors I have not yet seen at another conference – makes it a “must” on my annual conference list.   Here are a few of my takeaways:

  •  There is a sense that the industry has swung too far in our focus on technology at the expense of insights.   It’s not enough to have whiz bang, gee whiz technology unless it is helpful in producing strategic insight.    As one panelist stated, technology should be assisting us in freeing up our intellectual capital, so that only 20% of our time is spent on analysis, and the remaining 80% is on the storytelling.
  • Qualitative seems to be making a comeback, as the antidote to  overwhelming amounts of data that are lacking insight. As a qualitative research consultant, it is both gratifying and a very welcome trend.
  • We have reached the point where there is no longer much meaningful distinction between online research and mobile research. Even when respondents are participating using an online platform, they are highly likely to be accessing it on their smartphone.   Essentially, we have moved into an era where research has become “device agnostic”.  I heretofore resolve to refer to Doyle Research’s online and mobile capabilities as our “digital” methods.
  • The panel and recruitment segment of our industry is struggling with the fact that screeners and surveys are becoming longer and longer, sharply increasing the cost to complete a study. Some vendors are considering charging for Q’s above a certain number; others are taking the approach of refusing to accept more than a certain number of questions.   Clearly, as researchers and clients, we must question the need to ask so many questions.   Do we really think the quality of the insights is going to be improved by surveying respondents who are impatient and fatigued?
  • One thing I heard that disturbed me: some clients reported that they receive deliverables from their MR partners that they need to rewrite before issuing them.   In some cases, they have defaulted to asking only for the raw data and writing it from scratch themselves.   We cannot let that happen!   Our long-term value—the value that cannot be replaced by technology — lies in our ability to deliver insights, as well as the strategies for acting upon those insights, in a clear and compelling manner; and to engage our clients in co-creating solutions.

Once again, I left IIeX exhausted (did I mention that it took 15 hours to fly home from Atlanta to Chicago?) but inspired.    Keep up the good work Lenny and crew!   I’ll see you next year.

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.

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.