Consumer Driven Innovation
By Heather Kluter


Consumer Driven Innovation: Transcript

Hi. I’m Heather Kluter, Senior Vice President at Decision Analyst, and today I want to talk about ‘Going Beyond Consumer Driven Innovation.’

At Decision Analyst, we work with many companies who come to us, and they’re trying to innovate on a number of fronts―product innovation, service innovation, marketing innovation, and oftentimes they want us to help them using traditional methods. They want to use regular consumers and conduct focus groups. They might want to do this work in kind of a non-creative setting, they want to do the work over what we think is an insufficient length of time, and they might be using processes that are designed to reach closure in a specific amount of time. So, often we’ll talk through things with these clients and say “We think there’s a better way to do things. We don’t think that working with your average consumer is always the best idea when you’re trying to get innovative breakthroughs.”

At Decision Analyst, we do have a group of highly creative consumers who have been specially screened over years of testing to be beyond creative in terms of how the average consumer thinks―they’re called the Imaginators®. So we will often suggest to our clients that we use that group to help come up with new ideas that really are breakthrough. .

  • 4 basic questions for segmentation
    And we don’t do it in a two-hour setting and a traditional focus group facility where things feel very non-creative, they feel like they have a start and a finish. We like to do things over time, so that people have a chance to think about things. Once you have introduced an idea, how many times have you gone home and said, “Oh, I should have told this person this thought, now I’m in the shower, now I’ve got a new thought.” So extending the time can be a really helpful way to get beyond the traditional consumer driven innovation, and not designing things to reach closure, trying to continue to use an open-ended approach to explore new ideas.

So, if you feel like your innovations are not helping you reach breakthrough, what can you do? The first thing I think you need to think about is don’t worry about being perfect, don’t worry about having tons of budget, don’t worry about creating a whole new organizational structure to be more innovative. All of that can be very overwhelming.

As a really basic start, you can start small. There’s a lot you can do on your own. You can do trend tracking, and scene hunting on your own, you can do unofficial ethnography to get out into the world and experience what your target consumers are experiencing. The most important thing is to get away from your desk―get out into the world and start to experience the world that your consumers are living in, so that you can start to see the world through their eye, through their lens.

Now when we talk about going beyond consumer driven innovation, we’re not talking about forgetting the consumer. Everything we do should always be with the consumer lens, but what we’re thinking about is removing the myopia that can often occur in a particular industry. I know that everyone thinks that their industry is very specific, very special, only to be understood by the real insiders, but I really would challenge that. I would ask you to look outside your industry more than you look in, when you’re trying to think about inspiration for innovation. See things the way your consumers do because they don’t see things the way you do. They’re using a broader lens, and I would think so should you. So engage in non-industry activities to get yourself some unique insights. Look at the things that your consumers are involved in and talk to those companies; if they’re not competitive, I bet you they’ll be willing to share. And explore channels that you don’t control but that you influence.

  • Way to Segment the Market
    Oftentimes, I see these things being forgotten because our clients say, “I don’t have any control over that,” but you will always have influence. An example would be car dealerships, and hopefully we see that that’s changing, but for right now, for the most part, the OEMs, the car manufacturers do not control dealerships but they definitely need to know how to influence. That’s a huge consumer touchpoint that cannot be forgotten. The same can be true across many other industries, so think about where you would need to have influence, and make sure you understand those channels.

Ultimately, I think you can come up with a new process that becomes more official. Be careful, don’t get mired in too rigid of process, but you know, you want to still maintain that startup mentality. But even if you start small, even if you’re the only one, I think you can get to a place where you can prove that going beyond consumer driven innovation is something that can really be of value to the company.

Contact Decision Analyst

If you would like more information on Consumer Driven Innovation, please contact Heather Kluter, Senior Vice President (, or Clay Dethloff, Senior Vice President (, or call 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.