Human-Centered Innovation and Research Communities
When it comes to innovation, customer-centric organizations aim to infuse the human voice along the innovation journey. In reality, though, timelines, budgets, and internal demands can make it challenging. However, research communities can serve as the engine for ongoing listening and engagement – giving people an opportunity to become stakeholders in your future.
A growing number of clients are embracing the value of communities to optimize their innovation process. Whether they want to iterate on existing product ideas, probe on fuzzy front-end ideas, or gather feedback post launch, engaging people and giving them a stake in the process is providing big pay offs in efficiency and go-to-market strategies.
If you’re looking for ways to bolster your customer-centric innovation strategies, consider the benefits an innovation-focused research community can provide:
- A “hub” of your target audience: with community members at the ready, there are always consumers available to engage
- Time and cost savings: with the target audience easily accessible, consumer engagement doesn’t tug at resources
- Agile opportunities to pivot: as you learn and iterate together, you will have unexpected questions and ideas to explore
- Flex engagements: qualitative or quantitative, synchronous or asynchronous, point-in-time or longitudinal are all doable
- Natural feedback: capture insights and ideas that your organization may not have even had on the radar
- Blinded or branded: sometime anonymity is necessary and sometimes a brand connection will increase investment
Innovation-centered research communities allow for flexibility to follow non-linear paths, enabling a continuous learning experience that enables agile and adaptive learning, engaging consumers throughout the innovation lifecycle.
For inspiration on ways to tap into a research community for innovation needs across the innovation lifecycle, consider:
- Ongoing trend pulses
- Audience empathy immersions (diaries, IDIs)
- Competitive brand/landscape assessments (qual or quant)
- White space/opportunity identification survey
- Product usage journals
- Product mock reviews
- Ideation or co-creation sessions (synchronous or asynchronous)
- Concept testing program
- Usability interviews
- Shopping missions
- Messaging/communication testing
- And more!
Human-centered design and research communities comes to life in a myriad of ways. Here are just two stories of success:
While a nearly $20 billion global industry, chewing gum had lost its edge with the onset of alternative satisfiers. Our client sought to reverse this trend with a focus on one of its nostalgic brands. Engaging moms and their children in community activities allowed us to explore the importance of “fun” and “giving” in the category. Moms participated in targeted co-creation groups to uncover ways to make the brand highly relevant to them and their children’s life. This CPG giant launched new products as a result and saw an increase in sugar-free gum sales by 3.3%.
An international food services company embarked on an initiative to explore potential in the hot beverage category. Seeking white space opportunity to create niche experiences and offerings, and fill in coffee shop gaps, they had to identify and deeply understand their customers, particularly Millennials. By immersing with members in a virtual forum, we uncovered need states based on dayparts and gained the foresight necessary to build sustainable programs against. The insights were socialized via immersive assets to spark product and service innovation across intercontinental locations.