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.

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

Most Innovative Agency 2016

We are proud and delighted to be named Most Innovative Agency again in the GRIT Report  2016 (Check out the results teaser over at Greenbook). This is the fifth consecutive time we’ve won it, but it never stops being an honour to be recognised for innovation, both by our clients and agency peers. Over the years we’ve been pleased to see other agencies do well too – this year, it’s great to see InSites, an agency whose innovations in online communities we have massive respect for, break the Top 3. It’s a time of huge change for market research – look at our partners ZappiStore, jumping up the rankings from 25th in 2015 to 11th in 2015. They’re helping the whole industry get leaner and faster, and that is definitely where some of the future lies.

john-kearon-brainjuicer

Coming first in this survey doesn’t make us complacent – quite the reverse. We feel the pressure to keep on trying out new approaches and ideas. Last year, for instance, was all about applying behavioural science to branding. We launched our Fame, Feeling and Fluency model of brand growth which lies at the heart of our tracking and audit products, and was nominated for an MRS Innovation Award. We also unveiled the unique brand strategy product Storyteller, and were delighted when a paper combining the 3Fs and Storyteller won the prestigious Ulrike Schöneberg Award at Germany’s major research conference. This year, we’re focusing on  digital– moving a DIY version of our Ad Testing tool to ZappiStore, and working on new digital testing tools you’ll be hearing about very soon. Continue reading

Hound Dogs and Copy Cats

A review of Copy Copy Copy, by Mark Earls

On the way home last month from the IIEX conference in Atlanta – the last time I saw Mark Earls, as it happens – I was sat a few seats along from a well-preserved man with a perfectly-formed quiff, wearing a tight white Fred Perry shirt. He could make it as an Elvis impersonator, I thought. As we settled into our seats, he got out a sheaf of papers from a briefcase, and began to look through them. I was curious and glanced over. They were the lyrics to “Love Me Tender” and “Suspicious Minds”. He spent the flight earnestly watching Elvis videos on his laptop, looking at moves to copy.

elviscopy

There’s a lot of Elvis in Copy Copy Copy, Mark Earls’ new book. Mark’s been a pal of BrainJuicer since the early days, and since we’re cited in the book – as an example of what to do, luckily! – you shouldn’t consider this post a book review. We simply can’t be that objective.

So consider this more of a Book Notice. Mark Earls has a new book out. It’s illustrated by John Willshire, of Smithery, whose maxim, “Make things people want, don’t make people want things”, has been subject to its own share of copy-copy-copying in recent years. This book is a thing. People should want it.

It’s about copying (obviously). Earls takes aim at the cult of originality, the idea that the best ideas and solutions are blindingly novel. It’s something we’re prone to in research, when you think about it. The notion, for instance, that the best insight is something nobody has ever thought of before – rather than something that might be less original, but more useful to the problem at hand. Or the idea that brands have to have a unique selling proposition – when a universal human truth would do better at winning buyers over.

Continue reading

Tribute To An Innovator

We were saddened to hear today that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, died of cancer this morning.

Satoru-Iwata

This obituary details Iwata’s many achievements – most notably, it was under his leadership that Nintendo released the DS (the most successful handheld console ever) and the Wii, which reinvented the idea of gaming as something fun, casual and for the family. Continue reading

Why Not Use Research To Offer Your Customers LESS?

image1 - fashionToday’s blog post is by Micha Dudley, a Senior Research Associate in our Behaviour Change Unit. Thanks Micha!

Most clients use market research to find areas they can provide more value to their customers. But in some cases, it can be more beneficial to take a look at the areas businesses could stand to reduce some value.

For instance, this week an article was posted in The Wall which shares the excitement we all have about the potential of wearable tech and gives loads of interesting possibilities for wearable tech firms. Can tech companies work with jewellery companies? Can they bring out beautiful smart bracelets? Can they make wearable tech cool by offering more?

 

Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne would have them offer less instead.

One of the insights from their international bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy is that focussing your value on few attributes at the expense of others, can lead to success. Continue reading