Does Your Innovation Serve a Purpose?

I had to replenish my facial lotion recently. Being pretty loyal to my brand of choice, I simply went out and bought a new canister of their product. When I opened it, I found that they changed the pump on the bottle. And when I used it, I found that the new pump is messy and much less useful versus the previous packaging. In fact, it made the user experience worse.

That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps the desire to bring something new to the market, regardless of the value it delivers, kept this company from first determining what this “innovation” might mean to their customers. The idea of innovating with a purpose in mind might be getting overshadowed in our current climate, where “new news” is of prime importance.

The idea of innovating with a purpose in mind might be getting overshadowed in our current climate, where new news is of prime importance.”

It’s no secret that we consumers love new things — whether they be products, services, ideas, options, etc. It’s exciting, the prospect of what something new has to offer. But once the newness subsides, what we really care about is whether this new thing adds value to our lives. And let’s face it, with the ever expanding array of offerings, iterations, and options; coupled with the proliferation of customization; the chances that something new will really add unique value is decreasing precipitously.

With the ever expanding array of offerings, iterations, and options; coupled with the proliferation of customization; the chances that something new will really add unique value is decreasing precipitously.

For marketers, brand builders, and product developers, this means that simply having a new feature, version, addition to the line is of limited benefit. Case in point, another version of a smartphone isn’t quite as exciting when the “innovation” negatively impacts customer experience (no headphone jack?) or offers limited value (the ability to use it in a rain storm?). Truly impactful, meaningful, innovation is harder and harder to come by, and many new offerings may only deliver a short-term boost rather than longer-term value.

Many companies have cross-functional teams dedicated to finding the next innovation. Innovation frameworks to guide these teams abound, but they don’t necessarily get into the heads of customers to evaluate those ideas for their merit. So here are 5 key questions that can help determine if your idea has purpose:

  • Is it solving a problem that we’ve consistently seen or heard from customers?
  • Is it adding a benefit that customers can identify with and truly value?
  • Do customers believe it enhances or improves their experience?
  • Do customers see it fitting with the strategic vision of your brand?
  • Does it advance your brand forward in the minds of consumers?

Truly impactful, meaningful, innovation is harder and harder to come by, and many new offerings may only deliver a short-term boost rather than longer-term value.”

The need to answer these questions is as worthwhile and essential as ever. This is where brands can find ideas that meaningfully drive growth and equity.

Let’s look more deeply at what customers will find impactful. Figure out what will create meaningful differentiation. Deliver lasting value. This will help us avoid saturating the market with added noise.

Want to figure out what will create a meaningful difference for your brand?

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