Product Innovation: Finding the niche in consumers’ lives

By Jeanne Corrigan and Stephanie Milam

When we go out into the field to talk to consumers, we’re typically learning about a specific aspect of their lives and why they do things a certain way. We help our clients make things easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable for their consumers, but sometimes this means trying to alter their behavior.

We regularly hear from people about how they want to try something new but don’t. Some will even purchase specific products (such as a new sauce for meals) but don’t change their regular process enough to use the products properly (they don’t make a dish the sauce would be used with). So, how do we break through the natural inertia and get people to try new products? Does there have to be a level of engagement in that area of their lives or just a gentle push to get them over the hesitation?

Overall consumers find what works for them and stick to it. In the absence of an obvious problem or easy-to-identify frustration, most consumers don’t recognize a potential new product niche in their lives. That’s why it’s such a benefit to observe the consumers in their process to see what might be smoother, easier, or could enhance their experience.  Many times clients want their customers to articulate their unmet needs or identify new products or solutions, which is not always realistic because it’s not obvious. Consumers didn’t request post-it notes or ipods, but the consumer need and benefit was there and unearthed by those who really understand consumer behavior, needs and wants.

And that’s what our job is. We use our own understanding of both our clients’ objectives and the consumers’ experience, and align them to determine a point of innovation and development.

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