Thinking about innovating your product?—Start with the Customer, not technology!

Innovation is vital to the continued success of any business. Customers no longer stay satisfied for long. They are looking to be surprised and delighted by most, if not all, of the products and services they buy. Today’s challenge is to find ways to better and more quickly satisfy these ever-increasing demands of our customers.

Customers today are more demanding than ever before and innovation is an essential element of any successful business. But the majority of new product launches are a failure. Therefore, innovation today must go far beyond just new products and services. Many more levers are necessary to meet consumers’ constantly rising demands for novelty. An article from the Journal of Creating Value discusses about the main levers that make innovation of increased value to both customers and companies. These include setting stretch targets for every new launch, regular connection with and observation of customers, and the expansion of idea generation to greater input from both internal and external sources.

Successful innovation and creating shared value go hand-in-hand in today’s connected world. There are numerous examples of companies that have managed to stretch their brands into new categories and markets through the use of new innovation levers. One such example of this type of innovation comes from Coca-Cola. Last year, Coke used several different levers, combining them into what they called their ‘sharing can’. Not only can the can be split into two for sharing, but it also enables new potential consumers to consider buying a can, such as those with smaller thirsts or those who are travelling.

All businesses have customers, so why not start with them? What do they dream about improving, what are their biggest issues with the category? The companies should focus on starting innovation with the Customer, not R&D. It is important to ‘know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself’. This way the most relevant products and services can be proposed and are then more likely to be met with positive excitement, pride and happiness, rather than negative surprise, disappointment, irritation and frustration.

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