How user insights bring breakthrough, future-proofed products to market

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

The biggest challenge scientists and engineers face when imagining or reimagining a product is anticipating the needs of the future user.

Science that listens is a fresh, exciting approach that helps us to understand this, but what does it really mean?

Why does science need to listen? And what is it listening to?

This blog explains everything you need to know to help you create better products by listening for human needs, future trends and technical possibilities: fresh thinking, breakthrough products.

What is science that listens?

Science that listens is a consumer-centric approach at every stage of delivering a new or improved product to market; from concept and design, through to development, distribution and in-market evaluation.

Download the white paper here

Why does science need to listen?

Innovation is complex and carries risk. In the current climate, R&D teams are under increasing pressure to be more agile and deliver at speed, while working with reduced budgets, smaller teams and in challenging environments.

Innovators often face 4 big challenges relative to new product design:

  1. Skills, knowledge and experience are required, in order to conduct user research and apply the results to product development.
    ‘Who is our user and do I really understand their needs?’
  2. Innovators are naturally driven by passion, which can lead to a focus on technology, rather than on user analysis.
    How can we develop new products that solve real problems?’ 
  3. Typically, user research tells us what users are doing today, but innovation is all about forecasting for the future.
    ‘Will our products and ideas respond to future needs and trends?’
  4. Organisational structures typically don’t facilitate a connection between marketeers and innovators.
    How can we bring products to life so our users know it was made just for them?’

The science can work faster and more effectively when it listens to consumers.

What is science listening to?

Listening needs to be an ongoing process that brings the whole organisation together around user-centric product development and market activation. Innovators need to listen externally to consumers and the marketplace, and also to internal factors within their own business.

How we implement science that listens

Untapped Innovation works with R&D teams, bringing in expert deeper qualitative understanding, semiotic analysis, and social media research, to pick up on emerging influences and decipher the passing fads from the current and future trends that are here to stay.

The goal is always to connect and align each new product to specific user insights, ensuring development is adequately funded, has marketing and supply chain support and is evidence based at every stage.

The proof is in the paper (award-winning toilet tissue to be precise!)

We worked with Andrex maker Kimberley-Clark to develop a next-generation product upgrade for its mainline Classic Clean product. This work went across the innovation process from developing the idea, the product and the story-led concept, to in-market success.

The resulting product was launched in 2021 and won ‘Product of the Year’ in the toilet tissue category with its 3D WaveTM texture technology and ’giving you a better clean with fewer sheets’ claim, as developed by Untapped Innovation.

“The MVPs developed with Untapped Innovation led to three prototypes and we have blown it out of the park. Each prototype met every action standard, beating internal and external benchmarks on critical metrics.”

Nuala Donnelly, R&D Director, Kimberley-Clark

Download the white paper here

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Written by Deirdre Walters

Hi, I’m D! I’m a founding partner of Untapped Innovation. We help scientists, engineers and R&D experts to create better products by listening for human needs, future trends and technical possibilities: fresh thinking, breakthrough products. I love nothing more than combining ingredients from different worlds – everyday human life, emerging technologies and future trends – to invent exciting new products & services. With a degree in Chemistry and a broad spectrum of experience in manufacturing, technology development, and marketing, I have a firm grasp of how to translate new ideas into action, creating big impact.