5 Secrets of Innovation Success
Successful innovation and new product development involves a great deal of customer input. The more ways in which customers are involved, and the more systematic your efforts to involve them in multiple ways, the more likely you are to succeed with an innovative product or service.
This is according to new qualitative research just published by the Journal of Marketing (November 2012). The authors of the study looked at six small firms trying to develop and sell a major innovation. Three of them succeeded and three of them failed. How and to what extent they involved customers separated the successes from the failures.
Want to improve the chances that innovative ideas, products, or services succeed within your company or department? Here are six things that the successful firms in this study were doing, and that you should be doing as well:
1. Use research to discover new needs. It should involve two components: An active effort to observe or solicit input from customers; and careful, systematic listening to customer requests and complaints.
2. Sell an early version to select customers. This provides crucial support, leverage, or funding during the R&D process, and provides a ready group of customers to offer feedback and input.
3. Solicit input from early customers. Get their technical input, and develop a deep understanding of specifications. Ask for hands-on testing and input into development.
4. Leverage networks of early customers. Ask early customers to share information about the product or service with others.
5. Get feedback. Continually ask for opinions, feedback and criticisms, and develop a systematic way to analyze opinions and complaints even if they are not solicited.
While there is probably a good dose of intuition that helps smart business people pick the right path for innovation, there is clearly a huge role for research in ensuring a successful outcome. This makes sense, because research is all about discovering, interpreting, understanding, and implementing answers to unknowns.
Give us a call any time if you need help with this, or if you would like a copy of the study. We would be delighted to share our expertise in designing the most effective research that will help your innovations succeed.
–Joe Hopper, Ph.D.