True innovation often comes from uncovering deep, game-changing insights. Such rich insights result from being keen observers of life—particularly as it relates to your business, product or service—and also from structured opportunities to “think different” so you can capitalize on those insights.
If your company is looking for new stimuli to fuel your innovation process, try some of these approaches.
1. Throw out traditional qualitative and quantitative approaches. That’s blasphemy in market research circles! And yet, customers (and potential customers) are simply not good at articulating their needs, wants and desires. Conduct a survey and you’re limited to responses to those specific questions. Put them in an artificial environment like a Focus Group facility with fluorescent lights, cameras, microphones and one-way mirrors hiding “secret” observers, and what do you get? Information about your product, service, brand or category as it stands today. Traditional market research methods are not the best tools to obtain insights because they generally reflect the current market—or, worse, reflect what customers think they know about the current market.
2. Commune with your customers. Observe, ask questions and participate in your customers’ daily lives. Go to their homes, hang out with them at work, ride in their cars, go grocery shopping with them, go to restaurants with them. That’s what we do at Q2. And sometimes we even take our clients along with us so they, too, can commune with their customers. In these cases, not only do we yield insightful intel from our “communing” but also from discussions with our clients afterwards.
Something else we love: Customized Moderated Journaling apps on smart phones and tablets (thank you, Steve). These apps travel with consumers during their day while allowing them to record activities via photos, videos and notes. We look at the highs and lows of their day (particularly as it pertains to our client’s brand) and everything in between.
3. Tap into idea banks within your company. Conducting workshops with employees using a range of Creative Problem Solving (CPS) techniques pushes beyond internally-generated “understanding” of the customer to get to the really juicy insights and solutions. These workshops do not include the usual suspects (e.g. sales and marketing, C-level executives), but rather people from a range of departments, particularly those who are identified internally as unusual, out-of-the-box thinkers.
4. Tap into creative minds outside the company. Creative customers are often paired with company folks in a workshop setting. Or we might simply hang out with them, too.
5. Implement a formal system for harvesting, prioritizing and optimizing insights. Here at Q2, it’s not just about coming up with insights and new approaches to address them; it’s also the art of shifting through ideas to figure out which are potentially useful and which are not.
Obviously there are numerous ways to identify rich insights that lead to true innovation, and we have more tricks up our sleeve. We’re constantly thinking, changing and adapting the methods and tools we use to enrich the innovation process.
This article was written by Kirsty Nunez. Kirsty Nunez is President and Chief Research Strategist at Q2 Insights. Q2 Insights is a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans. Kirsty can be reached at (760) 230-2950 and firstname.lastname@example.org.