Happy New Product Development

After festivities and the respite of public holidays, it’s that time of year when we pause for a breath to refocus, re-energise and rebuild.  In many ways it is a clean sheet – new diaries, new calendars, perhaps some new socks? And of course there’s the formality of new year resolutions that we hope can make us better versions of ourselves, or at least make us temporarily tougher on our perennial feeble-mindedness.

One of the phrases bandied about is “out with the old and in with the new” and while 2016 has generally been given a poor end-of-year report due to celebrity deaths and political uncertainty, should we be so radical in dismissing it, and indeed other things, quite so wholeheartedly?

Behavioural science tells us that we seek and reward familiarity because our prevalent System 1 thinking is a pattern recognition machine.  When you’re introducing something new (a resolution to stop smoking, BREXIT legislation, a new flavour of cheese), the disappearance of any such familiarity creates uncertainty and diminishes the likelihood of buy-in.  This makes some of the traditional metrics used in New Product Development testing rather more questionable, such as combining New and Different into one “New and Different” attribute.  We might say, when asked in a survey, that we want things that are new and different, but the reality is that if it is too different then our System 1 thinking will struggle at point of purchase.  We see this time and time again when testing food ideas.  We may not like to admit it but we are creatures of habit, as those probably-already-smashed new year resolutions demonstrate.

After exploring our data on new product launches we’ve tested, BrainJuicer has introduced the notion of Fluent Innovation.

capture

The core foundation of Fluent Innovation is that it takes more than a good idea to create a great innovation; it’s about making that idea acceptable so that people get (understand) it, and are therefore more likely to get (buy) it. As such, Fluent Innovation is all about combining genuine, surprising novelty with stuff that is already fluent and familiar. It is not about “out with the old and in with the new”, it is about combining novelty with familiarity.  Neither the new nor the familiar is enough in itself.

We believe successful innovation is 20% the new and surprising, 80% the familiar and pleasing. You have to have that core good idea, but so much of what makes the difference between success and failure lies in framing it for acceptance.  How much is pleasing and familiar about a Hard Brexit compared to a Soft one?

Human beings have a gut liking for the familiar. A lot of people who want to innovate push against that – work to find a disruptive, highly original idea and present it as radical. But as is always the way, you get much better results by working with the grain of System 1 thinking. Take that same game-changing idea and find what makes it familiar, and you’re on the path to Fluent Innovation.

The nutribullet craze – it’s a glorified blender, The ION AIR LP: It’s a record player with Bluetooth, the newly-announced Sony NW-A35  – it’s a Walkman with a beefed-up spec.  And how might Christians ever get pagans take up Christmas: by tying it in with their existing pagan solstice festivals, complete with their penchant for decorating trees.

Happy January, and Happy New Product Development.

Innovation Month: Playing The Waiting Game

This Innovation Month post is a special report from The Market Research Event, where BrainJuicer is presenting and where this blog’s editor, Tom Ewing, is acting as an event blogger. This post is a write-up of an innovation case study Tom saw. Even though we didn’t do this research ourselves, we feel it has important lessons for approaching innovation and making it Fluent!

On Day 2 of TMRE, in the Innovation Track, a case study presentation by Sargento Foods inadvertently illuminated one of the big issues in innovation: the gulf between how we talk about it, and how it actually happens.

The track chairs kicked the session off with the former, a chart showing the ever accelerating pace of technological innovation. It was the kind of chart that shows the electric lightbulb and the steam engine as less dramatic advances than the iPad – but it made its point. This is how people in our industry talk innovation – as an ever-accelerating hamster wheel of change on which brands must spin or fall off.

exponential-change

But is that really how innovation works? Michelle Monkoski and Barbara Kilcoyne of Sargento implied a rather different view – where patience and timing, not frantic acceleration, are the keys to innovating against consumer trends. Continue reading

Innovation Month: Innovation In A Change-Phobic World

Sometimes it takes a huge event to make people look at their assumptions in a new light. Taken by surprise by the EU Referendum and Brexit, British marketers have had to think carefully about how well they knew the people they were selling to. And, as a fascinating new study by the Futures Company points out, it’s not just a British thing. All over Europe and beyond there are vast groups of consumers who feel a sense of loss in the face of change, and respond strongly to the familiar.

british-brands

Marketers tend to be novelty-seeking types who talk a big game about the inevitability of change. Forcing themselves to consider more conservative or change-averse consumers can be a wrench. But while history may be on the side of change, psychology isn’t. Continue reading

Innovation Month: The Importance Of Being Easy

It languishes now on Worst Cars of all Time lists, and there’s some dispute over whether it was even made. So the Horsey Horseless Automobile, brainchild of Michigan’s Uriah Smith in 1899, might seem a strange point to begin our Innovation Month on the Brian Juicer blog.

horsey-horseless

But behind the bizarre appearance of the Horsey Horseless lurks a very important point about innovation. The easier you make it, the better it works. Continue reading

Pokémon Go: The Triumph Of Fluent Innovation

Pokémon Go is the game that caught the world. With downloads in the tens of millions and active user rates overtaking Tinder and Twitter in the US, it’s a game that’s become a cultural phenomenon in less than a week and sent franchise owner Nintendo’s share price soaring. The appeal seems obvious. For kids, the catch-em-all, collect-em-all appeal of Pokémon is evergreen. For parents, it’s a way to bond with kids and get them out of the house. And for that massive slice of the game’s audience in between who were there for the first Pokémon craze in the late 90s, it’s a childhood dream come true.

PG Squirtle

It’s also a brilliant example of Fluent Innovation, the kind of innovation we’ve been talking about a lot at BrainJuicer lately.

PG Drowzee

Fluent Innovation is all about combining genuine, surprising novelty with stuff that is already fluent and familiar. “20% exciting surprise, 80% delightfully familiar” – as we put it in our previous post about it. That combination of the instantly familiar and the marvellously new is what made Moka coffee machines sell, what helps scientific papers get cited… and now it’s what’s broken augmented reality games – where the game interface overlaps with the real world via your device – through to the mainstream in one remarkable swoop.

PG Zubat

Pokémon Go maker Niantic previously made another augmented reality game, Ingress, which worked in very similar ways to Pokémon Go (Ingress’ maps of key locations overlap heavily with the new game’s Gyms and Pokestops). It was a big cult success, but on nowhere near the mainstream scale of Pokémon Go. Some gaming commentators have sighed over the fact that the genuinely innovative, smooth-running and feature-rich Ingress only achieved a tiny percentage of the success Pokémon Go has. The difference, obviously, is Pokémon: add a strong franchise to new technology and you have a success on your hands.

PG Squirtle 2

The reason why this technique works so well is Fluent Innovation. The barriers to an unfamiliar behaviour – interacting with the world via augmented reaity – are lowered by the addition of familiar unique assets – Pikachu and his chums. There are a lot more useful things you can do with the new behaviour than catch Pokémon – but without that shot of fluency they just feel weird. Just look at Google Glass, which sought to bring augmented reality to the masses and ended up an ambitious white elephant as far as wider consumers were concerned.

PG Taurus

But it’s not just a case of add a branded character and sell more. At the height of the Pokémon craze, you could buy Pokémon toothbrushes, watches and duvet covers. I’m sure they sold fine, but they didn’t dramatically expand teeth-brushing or time-telling overnight. They didn’t have any real innovation in the mix. For Fluent Innovation, neither the new or the familiar is enough by itself.

(With thanks to the trainers in our London, Shoreham, New York and Miami offices for the images used in this post!)

“You Had Me At Hello”: Introducing Fluent Innovation

Earlier this week we gave a webinar on Fluent Innovation – an idea we’re using in our new product development work (our famous Predictive Markets tool, instance). The core of Fluent Innovation is very simple – great innovation isn’t just about having a good idea, it’s about making that idea acceptable. And the way you make an idea acceptable is by making it Fluent – familiar, easy to process… “surprisingly obvious”, you might say.

To explain this in the webinar, we told the story of the Bialetti Moka coffee pot, one of the great classics of 20th Century design, and beyond that a massive commercial success – when people say every Italian home has one, they may not be far off!

BLUE BOTTLE

The Moka Pot. Innovative inside, familiar outside.

The Moka is a beautiful piece of engineering, but that isn’t the only place its genius lies. The Moka combines a brilliant idea and immediately appealing design in a way that’s a perfect example of Fluent Innovation. Continue reading