Listen to the podcast (approximately 3-1/2 minutes). 23 May 2013 Idea Incubator podcast customer needs
Do you know who your customers are? Do you know what motivates them to buy your products instead of a competitor’s? Is it the packaging, the benefits, the functions, or the service? Can you describe your customer in detail? How old is he? What does she enjoy? Where do they shop?
Without a buyer, new product innovations are really just “cool” technology inventions. So, who are the customers for a new product and how should the firm best reach them?
All new products go through a normal-distribution life cycle of maturity in consumer adoption: innovators, early adopters, and early majority followed by late majority and laggards(i). This model is useful to estimate acceptance of the new product by a range of customers as well as helping the firm to estimate market penetration rates over time(ii).
Clayton Christensen’s seminal work in “The Innovator’s Dilemma(iii)” demonstrated that customers are interested in purchasing products that deliver value and are easy to use for their application. Croslin(iv) further explains that as competitors move toward commodities and price becomes the strongest differentiator, most firms are likely to include too many features that are too complicated for most consumers to use.
Therefore, firms must always be “listening” to what customers need. Of course, this is a deeper dive than asking what features the consumer needs most as a next generation upgrade or focusing only on the “lead” customers. Instead, “listening” to the customer has an end goal of understanding what job the consumer needs done(iii,v). In this way, products and services are designed to solve problems for underserved customers.
For example, a vast number of France’s La Poste customers simply need to mail a registered letter. But while La Poste took a firm-centric view, nearly 60% of these customers were unable to complete this very routine tasks within five minutes(vi), standing in a long queue with other individuals who need to accomplish chores as varied as mailing parcels and executing banking transactions.
With a customer-centric view of listening to problems, La Poste Paris decreased average wait time by 60% and nearly three-quarters of customers mailing registered letters were able to complete their business within five minutes(vi).
Customer-centric innovation (read more in a thought leadership paper) is one of the three best practice arenas for repeated and continued success with new product development.
Keeping your organization focused on these three simple best practice items can lead to new product success!
You can contact Global NP Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 281-280-8717 if you’d like to learn more about ideation, team–building, and other best practices for innovation. We also recommend NPDP Certification Training to learn more about the concepts and implementation of ideation for innovation program success.
(i). New Product Diffusion Models in Marketing: An Assessment of Two Approaches. Wright, Malcolm and Charlett, Don. 1995, Marketing Bulleting, Vol. 6, pp. Article 4 (1-9).
(ii). Kahn, Kenneth B. Product Planning Essentials, 2nd ed. Armonk, NY : M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2011.
(iii). Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA : Harvard Business School Press, 1997.
(iv). Croslin, David. Innovate the Future: A Radical New Approach to IT Innovation. Boston, MA : Prentice Hall, 2010.
(v). Ulwick, Anthony W. What Customers Want. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2005.
(vi). Ramaswamy, Venkat and Gouillart, Francis. The Power of Co-Creation. New York : Free Press, 2010.
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