An Innovation Issue for a Commercial Success
Innovation is an essential tool for business development and success. In today’s business world, most of the major market companies do have their Research & development sectors, departments, which constantly seek to find new routes, new alternatives for the company to be successful in the market. These companies rely heavily on the productivity of these departments for their success. In fact, in order to gain a comfortable market share or to remain on top once you get there, the company should constantly try to create new products in order to attract customers. It is the intention of this paper to show that market research and proper analysis of its results are key innovation issues, if not the ‘key’ issue. In fact, if these two steps are not combined properly, it is hard to speak of successful innovation at all.
The innovation process has its steps that should be fulfilled carefully in order to achieve success. One of these key issues is the proper market research in order to come to a new innovative product. This process of market research is considered to be the starting point of new product development. Trott shows that even though there is controversy over the fact that these market researches do have significant effects, but many scholars do agree that they are an essential tool for new product development. Companies start their market researches by testing the desires and needs of consumers in order to find out what they like or dislike, what they require and what do they not see as a requirement.
Many argue that only proper consumer testing and market research could avoid large-scale losses and failures like the ones RCA with its Videodisc, Procter & Gamble with Pringles and General Motors with its rotary engine had.
All of this market research and customer testing activity is done in order to get to know the market properly. Getting to know the market is a key innovation issue. You cannot guarantee your new product success if you do not know what are trends affect consumers at the precise moment you want to develop a new product. By getting to know these trends, you can manage to develop something that maybe customers are expecting and needing before others. At least you would manage to avoid developing something that customers will respond negatively to. This is why these prior researches are essential. But here, companies should not rush and ask consumers what they want and how they want it.
As trot mentions, there are several cases when companies conduct surveys and researches and develop new products just as their customers describe them, but this does not guarantee their success. So, there is a question mark raised on the utility of market research as a whole. In fact, Trott spends half of his article showing that companies that base their new product development entirely on the customers’ desires and detailed information do often fail to succeed in the marketplace! As we mentioned above, many in the business world do agree that hearing ‘the voice of consumers’ is essential to innovation and product development. But basing the new product entirely on what customers need and how they want it does not mean that you have come up with an innovation. The reason for this is very simple. As Ulwick says it:
“Customers should not be trusted to come up with the solutions; they aren’t experts or informed enough for that part of the innovation process. That is what your R & D team is for. Rather, customers should be asked only for outcomes – that is, what they want a new product or service to do for them.”
The above statement gives (according to the writer) the appropriate path to successful innovations. It is a process of taking the information from the customers and elaborates on them. As Ulwick states in his article, from the customers, a company should not ‘take for granted’ how the customers ‘want’ something to be. It should take into consideration their needs and desire to have something and then try to find ways to fulfil these needs and desires in such a way customers have not thought of before. This is how a company should manage the innovation process and how it can turn customer input into an innovative, creative force.
Those customers should not ‘be trusted’ in every information they give, especially during the ‘how do you want it’ part of the research, has become clear from many other studies as well. Many authors do even pretend that you have to manage the innovation in your company by using what, in fact, customers do not say to you. Through this process of collecting evidence of what people do more than say they want (the so called empathic-design techniques) is something companies should consider and add to the evaluation and analysis process of new product development. The authors recall the case of Nissan, which developed their new product, new truck, also based on the evidence of how truck drivers eat lunch within the trucks many times.