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.


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.

The Top Ten Tips For Better Concept Writing

People make decisions about new things in exactly the same way they make any decision – quickly, intuitively, and emotionally.

So why make your concepts long, discursive and full of rational benefits?

Force of habit, mainly. But get your concepts right, and your concept testing becomes a whole lot more accurate and useful. Mark Johnson, our Europe MD, has put together a booklet with our best tips on how – and here it is!

(If the embed doesn’t work for you, go look here.)


Meet the most successful research app of 2014

We live in an era where new research start-ups and apps are appearing on a near-daily basis. Frankly, it’s brilliant. It’s a great time to be a researcher or marketer.

But in 2014, one research app has left the others in the dust. It’s got nothing to do with MROCs, or facial coding, or in-the-moment research. It’s not by BrainJuicer, or Google Surveys, or Vision Critical, or any of the other industry innovators. To be honest, it’s not actually used by researchers at all. But it’s stupendously popular and teaches a very simple lesson about how to ask questions.

What is it? Continue reading

System 1 Storytelling

Last week I was lucky enough to speak at the annual conference of the European Human Behaviour And Evolution Association (EHBEA). In amidst three days of groundbreaking work on disgust, attraction, development and cultural learning (to name a few), my daunting job was to come in from the other side of the academic-professional fence and chat about how we use science at BrainJuicer.

And use it we do. It’s in our business strapline, after all – “Turning human understanding into business advantage”. The human understanding there isn’t just the stuff we get ourselves from surveys, online communities, and other tools – it’s the giant strides forward in knowledge provided by psychology, behavioural economics, and decision science.

Using this stuff commercially is a big responsibility. You have to make it immediate, understandable and real for clients, but you also owe a debt to the science not to distort it even if you’re simplifying it.

So that’s what I talked about, and here’s a slide from the presentation, summarising up our approach on communicating new ideas.

seduction not persuasion

The way you communicate ideas has to appeal to System 1 – the ideas have to feel right. Even for complex and well-validated science, the key is seduction, not persuasion.

So what do you need? Continue reading

Search Me

This table is from a 2006 paper, “‘Irrational’ Searchers and IR-Rational Researchers” by Nils Pharo and Kalervo Jarvelin.

It’s a breakdown of a rational model of search engine use.


The paper is about how this model of how we use search engines isn’t very accurate (surprise!). In general, people use heuristics and creatively improvise. Or, in other words, they go to Google and type something in, then tweak it a bit when that doesn’t work.

You already know they do that, of course, and so do we, and you did even in 2006. (No slam against the paper – it needed demonstrating!). We just like this as an example of how complex – and unrealistic – everyday decisions get when you try to prescribe the ‘rational’ way of making them.

Eight Days Of Emotion No.5: Happiness

Happiness is the most important emotion we measure. It plays a role in every positive marketing or research outcome and is absolutely central to most. Whether you’re looking at the effectiveness of an advert, the progress of a new product or the value of a new idea, the single most important question you can ask is: does it make people feel happy?

Nominated by one BrainJuicer staffer as the happiest song in the world!

Put this starkly, you might think it’s too good to be true. Can one positive emotion really act as a proxy for so many outcomes? But there are excellent scientific reasons for the importance of happiness. Continue reading