Last Saturday I enjoyed a lie-in like most of us do when we don’t have to get up for work at the weekends. I was woken up that morning by one of my cats who was proudly showing me that she had caught a bat!
Both my cats love hunting and I have to say they are (too) good at it! They give me frequent “presents” that I discretely dispose of, unless of course they are alive, in which case I have to catch them and return them to the wild outdoors, whilst my two cats continue to sniff around the last place in which they had seen their prey.
Anyway, my cat Apricot – a female ginger – was really excited about this rare capture, which is why she woke me up. Of course, I was less than enthusiastic about a bat flying around my bedroom at six in the morning! Luckily the light quietened it down and when he stopped flying, to hang on the wall, I was able to catch him and put him back outside where be belongs.
Do your innovations excite you or your customer?
Now awake, my mind started musing on the difference in reactions between my cat and me. She was excited, happy and proud; I was surprised, disappointed and irritated that I had to stop what I was doing – sleeping – to attend to her “present”. I think something similar happens sometimes when companies launch new products or services. Everyone in the organisation gets excited about their innovation or renovation, are proud to have developed it and happy that after all the hard word, it is finally ready for launch. The customer on the other hand, can be surprised, which is great if this is accompanied by pleasure, or disappointed if the promise is not delivered. However, he can also sometimes be irritated because his usual brand or version is no longer available, at least not on the shelf or store in which he usually finds it. We are in fact asking him to work, to change his habits, which no human really enjoys, even when it is for the better.
So how can you make customer-centric new product launches? Start from your target customers’ perspective, by asking these five questions:
- How are your customers currently using your product or service? What are their pain points if any; price, packaging, size, availability, sensorial experience – taste, aroma, colour, sound, feel?
- Who is currently changing / has changed their habits to compensate for these pain points? Your current regular users, occasional users, competitive brand users?
- What are your customers doing to currently face their pain points? Are they only buying on promotion, buying several small packs at a time, buying a replacement brand, buying elsewhere, adding their own ingredients?
- Where would they rank each of these pain points in terms of priority and acceptability? Can they cope with buying less often to get it at a more acceptable price? Do they have a “portfolio” of acceptable brands from which to choose in the category?
- When do the pain points become so unacceptable that your customers would consider changing habits? Are there psychological price barriers in the category or for your brand? Are their category standards of colour, size or packaging that need to be obeyed – or perhaps even broken?
Obviously best-in-class innovation and renovation starts with the target customer in mind; their rational needs AND emotional desires.
Based on the answers to these five questions, 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, disapointment, irritation and frustration.
Involve your customers in your innovation
A further idea about customer-centric innovation is to actually involve your customers along the whole process. Many organisations now run what are called “co-creation” or co-elaboration sessions, where your ideas are shared with and then further developed with your customers in live sessions, either in person or over the web. How about co-creating your next new product idea with your customers? That way you know it will delight them even before you launch.
Do you have any other points you would add to the above list? Comments welcome.
C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com