Innovating in 2017
As Untapped starts the new year, we wanted to stop and think about the challenges ahead for Insight and Innovation. We use 3 basic ingredients for innovation and believe these are more relevant than ever; 1) What’s needed CONSUMER INSIGHT, 2) What’s possible TECHNOLOGY INSIGHT and 3) What’s future TREND INSIGHT. Furthermore, we continue to evolve our method for connecting all this insight since we believe that the magic occurs where the connections are made; we do this via our STORY THINKING. Here, we review each of these and how we’re thinking about them for 2017.
We were reminded by the 2016 MRS Report by the MRS Delphi Group, “Towards an Insight Driven Organisation” of the importance of an insight driven culture and how many organisations are still lagging behind. Out of 109 companies who took part in an MRS self assessment survey, 72% said their organisations use insight to influence business decisions and only 4% said theirs is a fully insight-driven organisation. The report also concluded that the 2 biggest growth sectors across the market research industry are data analytics and qualitative research. A strong Insight function must be seamless across both, via integrating each into their strategy. While we agree with this conclusion, Martin Lindstrom makes an interesting point in his book Small Data that while big data provides impersonal information to help predict future direction, it’s the uniquely human small data right in front of us the reveals the real truth and insights into future trends. At Untapped we continue to evolve our online and offline methods to stay close to the consumer, where and when they are interacting with their products and services.
We attended the Trend Watching Live London conference in November and was reminded about the close connection between an innovation and a new trend. They describe that as a general rule of thumb, a trend is born when a new innovation is spotted at least 3 times in different categories. This first innovation is often not fully fleshed out or does not lead to instant business success, but as the trend takes hold and the innovation morphs and reinvents itself, this in turns leads to further innovation with more refined prototypes. Without trend inspiration, there can be no future focused innovation.
R&D organisations possess deep understanding of the technology they are working with, but can they make this explicit to their business counterparts? Have all their products been designed by translating consumer needs into detailed product design criteria? Strong technology insight will not exist if it hasn’t been driven by the consumer in the first place and it will go nowhere unless it can be closely connected to consumer and trend insight. So, how do you make those connections?
There is much written about the power of telling a story in brand communication. Going back to the MRS Report “Towards an Insight Driven Organisation”, many of the contributors emphasise the importance of telling the story of the insight back to the business to enable transformational action. We fully endorse this but think story-telling as a way of thinking can be even more powerful. We use it to connect consumer, trend and technical insights within a business context and tell an emotionally rich story where the consumer is the hero and the product or experience is the enabler. The intersection between all these insights is where the magic occurs.
At Untapped, we believe this recipe can be applied very broadly. To take a very different example away from the FMCG industry, this week, Theresa May has expanded on her “Shared Society” vision in the UK. Putting politics aside, it feels as though this may have some of the elements of an innovation; 1) feeding off the current megatrend around the Sharing Economy, an evolution from David Cameron’s Big Society vision, 2) consumer insight around the PM’s need to create a legacy with some deliverables beyond Brexit, tapping into a voter need to help not just the poorest but also those who are just managing and 3) some technical insight around how this will be delivered (housing, education, economic policies, etc.). However, we will have to wait and see whether the story that is being created around this new vision will be powerful enough to inspire and emotionally resonate with people and of course with politics, whether the government is able to deliver on the innovation.
Whether you are facing innovation challenges within the FMCG world or more broadly, we’d love to discuss these further with you.