In a highly volatile market environment, companies are under pressure to innovate to maintain their competitive edge. Innovation is crucial for continuous growth, facilitating better services and operations, and adding value to customers. Smart technologies and innovation also help companies become more resilient to competitive threats. However, innovation is futile if it does not fulfill consumer needs.
Why do you need to integrate customer insight with your innovation strategy?
While innovation has traditionally relied on technical information alone, new models that encourage R&D to work with marketing allow organizations to develop more customer-centric offerings. Listening to the voice of the customer helps companies to identify gaps and seize opportunities that best meet their needs. The insights gathered through customer feedback support not just product innovation and development, but also customer experience, messaging, sales and marketing, CRM, and customer service. As a result, products meet greater acceptance and success in the market.
Marrying customer insight with innovation involves some form of concept-testing at each step of the product development cycle. It’s an iterative process that starts earlier and goes beyond just testing and validation.
How customer insights can support innovation
Here’s how companies can benefit by integrating customer insights with their innovation strategy.
Understanding the market opportunity
Several markets could be addressed with a single innovation with different technological options. For example, wearable communications systems can serve both young and elderly people, as well as healthcare and consumer goods markets. A good innovation-need fit is key to market success and listening to consumers helps companies to recognize this soft spot.
Market research can provide consumer insights that surface the “whitespaces” for innovation. When combined with the technical knowledge of R&D teams, it can help find new applications of existing innovations or adapt innovations to meet new needs, allowing the organization to expand into new markets.
Identifying current challenges and improvement areas
Customer feedback for existing products is a valuable input for both incremental and breakthrough innovations. It provides answers to questions like:
- How are customers using our products?
- What issues do they face?
- What does it do well and not so well?
- What are the improvement areas?
Such feedback can be collected using traditional market research approaches such as qualitative interviews, as well as by tapping into online data such as review websites, support forums, and social media. Examining the customer feedback obtained through technical helpdesks or customer support teams can also uncover specific needs while helping organizations determine the efficacy of the support offered.
Understanding customer preferences
Different customer segments respond to innovations differently. For instance, millennials prefer transacting on their smartphones, whereas baby boomers find tablets or laptops a convenient option. Innovating to serve current preferences while predicting future ones can only be achieved by engaging customers in every stage of the new product refinement and rollout processes. A continuous connection with your customers will reveal these changing trends and help timely augmentation to meet these changing preferences.
A collaborative approach that includes consumers in the innovation process allows companies to develop products that are more relevant to their needs. Unfortunately, consumer needs are hard to identify and generating insights from consumer input can be quite challenging and expensive. Netscribes helps companies overcome these challenges cost-effectively through a gamut of market research approaches, including large consumer surveys, qualitative interviews, social media research, patent research, and online focus group discussions. With over two decades of expertise in global market research and analysis, we are a trusted partner to some of the world’s most innovative companies.
To learn more about how we can support your next innovation strategy, contact [email protected].