- Innovate for consumers
Innovation should be valuable for consumers. It means that brands and companies should look beyond their purchase intent. The main problem today is that consumers don’t feel concerned about innovation. “Today it becomes more and more difficult to convince a consumer. When we propose something ‘new’, consumers think ‘they just want to sell something’. Consumers become experts of their own consumption, aware of the value they derive from it. So companies must bring something particular to him”, said Dominique Lévy, Marketing Manager at Ipsos. What is this “particular”? According to Ipsos’ Marketing Manager, it could be such classical needs as quality, pleasure, utility, technological progress, but consumers express more and more such altruistic needs as social and environmental responsibility. Innovation is not just about products, it’s over all about consumers.
Furthermore, innovation is not perceived as ‘expensive’ if it fits with consumer needs. “The price is important, especially in the period of the crisis. However, when you propose a real innovation with real utility and pleasure for consumers, the price doesn’t matter anymore”, stressed Marie-Catherine Cerutti, International Marketing Manager of Nestlé Waters International by giving the example of Nespresso.
- Innovate with consumers
So how to know what is useful and what gives pleasure to your consumers? Would you ask them? Make a traditional survey? Not exactly. “When 20 years ago we asked consumers ‘Do you need a mobile phone?’, most of them responded ‘no…this would be useful for firefighters‘ « , highlights Julien Billot, Deputy General Manager of Pages Jaunes who worked at Orange for years. Then, when consumers were asked if they need a phone to communicate with their relatives and friends anywhere, they said “Yes!”. You may think that it’s all about the formulation of the question, but there is a more fundamental reason here. Instead of asking consumers about your product, you should ask them how they want to use it. Instead of focusing on the “mobile phone”, you should focus on “personal needs” in terms of communication: “Innovation should be strongly related to service. You should understand how the new product will change your consumers’ habits and ask them about it”, said Julien Billot. Speakers agreed that brands and companies should observe people, be closer to them and integrate them early in the process of innovation.