The future of innovation is the advanced integration of a dynamic and vital consumer insights toolbox. The current qualitative and quantitative methodologies must adapt to increased technology access, breakthroughs, shifting attitudes, and differing behaviors, on a global basis. Enhancements of traditional methods will comprise new technology, increased expertise access, and better user interfaces. The fuzzy front end will become less fuzzy -- the term will seem antiquated. Innovation truly involves a reduction rather than elimination of risks, so consumer research is necessary. Satisfying project requirements is more than marrying research needs with technology to obtain meatier results. To get those precious “aha” moments, methodologies must consider the new input. Although the majority of “new tools” will be old tools with new labels, a few truly distinctive and practical techniques based on sound research and scientific principles will emerge.
Customizable, collaborative tools are instrumental in product development, affecting company and consumer interactions, and modifying the flow of information. Such phenomena seem space-age, but are significant to those who have mastered the intricacies of online services. The influence of early adopters is undeniable -- and as with shifting paradigms should be carefully observed – because the autonomy introduced by personal devices and online exchanges can improve respondent engagement. Free-flowing information is a double-edged sword, however -- witness the recent backlash in the pain reliever category to an ad with a misinterpreted insight. A boycott hastened by a social networking site taught a serious lesson: Don’t underestimate the power of internet connections.
Interactions have gone beyond simple search engines and video sharing. As social networking expands, other forms of transformational internet communication will continue to appear. On the trail of online do-it-yourselfers, the innovators of the internets will develop new ways of communicating, creating more well-defined, yet overlapping communities. Electronic voices are more conversational in tone, making them more accessible and knowledge more ubiquitous. Not all applications may have staying power though. Micro-blogging is a potential source of tedium and ennui.
“Insight” is overused and frequently associated with simple observances. It’s important to develop methods to advance the field and obtain more veritable insights. An insight is an elegant summation of behaviors and attitudes on a deeper, emotional level. When the insight is right, it is recognizable and can be felt viscerally. Because most insights are improperly packaged, related to difficulties in need articulation, increased consumer interaction will be at the heart of toolbox renovation. Innovative online research techniques will allow for faster data collection and richer insights due to larger sample sizes, increased computing power, and more robust designs.
New thought leaders will emerge from the evolution with a well-defined vision: Empathy that inspires communities is the foundation for sustainable, best research practices. Challenging conventional wisdom for valuable additions to methodologies will lead to success when there is consistency, appropriate analytics, and diligent research. In the changing arena of consumer science, collaboration skills will be vital.