As consumer needs are evolving at a record pace, CPG companies must be able to follow suit
2020 is year that will go down in history as the start to a new revolution, the Innovation Revolution. COVID-19 has forced every sector of life to pivot and adapt in order to survive. Large scale abstract thinking and creativity are carving out new ways of solving problems. Old processes are being replaced sooner in the development cycle as R&D optimizes to increase companies’ bottom lines. Because consumer priorities have never been more mercurial, organizations must be able and ready to pivot on a moment’s notice.
Industrial Revolutions are a staple in our history. There have been 4 in the last 250 years. The late 1780s brought the ground-breaking hydroelectric and steam-powered mechanical production. World War 1 catalyzed mass assembly of goods using electricity, and the 1960s introduced the first automated production of electronic and IT production. In the last 25 years, the Platform Revolution normalized technology between human and machine. Businesses like Amazon, Uber and Facebook were platforms built with two-sided markets. These types of platforms have revolutionized the way we live, work and play.
CPG companies have to stay ahead of the curve and keep a finger on the consumer’s constantly evolving perspective to survive. Yet the shift of “in-context” from the office, gym, and airport to the home has caused consumer insights to be more difficult than ever to gather, but more vital than ever. Antiquated forms of gathering remote consumer insight can lack authenticity and nuances that reflect the comprehensive data story needed for innovation. While useful, surveys are dependent on the consumer’s honesty and transparency. To provide unfiltered, genuine in-context insights to our clients, we must transform our research techniques to mold seamlessly into the lives of the Innovation Revolution consumer — by innovating ourselves.
To pivot at such a rapid pace, our clients need almost play-by-play insights. To accommodate this, we’ve developed a more robust and authentic strategy for extracting in-context consumer insights through a hybrid model of 70% in-person and 30% digital research. By partnering with a monthly subscription company, we circulated products to consumers to create an in-person experience and recorded reactions digitally. Recent technological advancements also provide opportunities to glean genuine insights from consumers at their homes. Partnering with tools like voice command companies such as Alexa and Siri to ask consumers questions could create more spur-of-the-moment, organic interactions. Zoom and other video-chat apps also hold the potential to generate more unscripted product insights. We’re even entertaining the idea of software that sprays scents in consumers’ homes and records their immediate reactions. Technology is a bridge to consumers the same way remote workers stay connected to their teams — a means to an end that we will capitalize on as much as possible.
Another interesting piece to the innovation revolution is both the opportunity and the threat it poses to companies. As 72% of consumers are open to trying new brands, 54% of consumers are on the hunt for more nutritious alternatives to their go-to products, and 28% of consumers report their snacking habits are changing daily, brands have a chance to gain new customers by aligning themselves with current needs. Companies also can’t rely on customers for brand loyalty and will need to up their game to retain consumers. The strong will survive, the strongest will use this revolution as an opportunity to become trends, and those who withstand the test of time will become legacies.
As terrifying and uncertain as this time is, the innovation revolution presents a way for companies to re-imagine and re-create themselves to better serve the most-pandemic consumer. Change is an inevitable byproduct of revolutions. Companies have two options: to ignore the call to innovate and become obsolete, or embrace it and experience growth. As a consumer insights company, we cannot wait to continue innovating alongside our clients to provide the consumer transparency vital to emerging from this revolution stronger than ever.