Alice Moss, Qualitative Lead for FMCG and Retail at TNS UK, offers insights about aligning a crowd of creative minds around a single consumer moment to produce ideas that both captivate and compel.

Whether we’re talking about biscuits or credit cards, success today depends on identifying the key moment of need for consumers and innovating against that moment. But all too often, brands instead find themselves in a cumbersome and expensive process in which everyone goes round the houses thinking about the same products over and over, slowing down the speed to market. So how can brands go about it differently? 

First, get up close and personal 

Qualitative techniques and tools help identify moments, spaces and opportunities. Using new and interesting methods, we have to get under consumers’ skin - in the moment - these include: mobile diaries, self ethnography, observation and even creeping around spying on people.

It takes work, thought and insight to really find what those moments of opportunity are. For example, standing around watching people wash and style their hair to find those points at which there are frustrations that they’re not even aware of, because it’s the way we always do things. Or spending time in kitchens watching women cook in the confines of their family lives in order to identify opportunities. Or watching people choose mortgages to understand the processes and behaviours that reveal the moments that truly matter.

And then… call in the crowd

Of course, identifying key moments like these is only the beginning, not the end. It’s the next stage when organisations often falter, with huge teams, lots of complexity and the same old ideas often standing in the way of progress. So what if we open this process up? What if we use a hive of creative minds whose thinking isn’t already shaped by a company’s way of operating, who have no vested interest in the outcome or in pushing an idea that one person has been championing all along anyway?

This got us thinking about using crowdsourcing to innovate. Why the crowd? The crowd provides inspiration, new ideas and perspective. It can act both as a counterpoint and complement to a company’s existing teams. And it taps into an important feature of modern society – people want to interact with businesses, they want to participate and they want to be consulted. Using the crowd in innovation is a way of giving people a voice in shaping the things they are choosing to buy – and that has real power. 

Recent articles