A Rejuvenating Plunge Into Innovation

If you spend any time in CPG product innovation, you're likely using a“Jobs To Be Done” (JTBD)approach. Created by Harvard Business School professor and disruptive innovator Clayton Christensen, the JTBD approach simply suggests people don't buy products, they hire them to do specific jobs.

Only when a marketer has clear insight into a job for which the target consumer has no quality solution is the marketer armed to innovate with any confidence that the 85% fail rate for new products in the first two years can be beaten. JTBD forces one to think bigger and with a greater purity of purpose for fulfilling for the target consumer's needs. 

Using a JTBD framework for developing growth strategies for a brand, whether for innovation or existing products, has a cleansing effect. For a current brand, it’s easy to get caught up in what PepsiCo's Brad Jakeman aptly called "digital landfill" — producing a quantity of content that checks every channel "box" but isn't relevant and compelling enough to move anyone toward desired buying behavior. 



JTBD thinking inexorably moves your center of concentration back to those moments of truth in your consumers' lives when your brand has at least an opportunity to be completely relevant. But how do you prepare to put yourself at those moments of truth?Traditionally, CPG marketers used observational research — focus groups, shop-alongs and in-home ethnographies — to gather authentic insights into those moments of truth.

These methodologies shared several shortcomings. Their qualitative approach meant the sample you were observing was not broadly predictive of the actual sentiment or behavior of your target. They were relatively slow and expensive to field. And the artifice of the methodology (what does the researcher want me to say?) got in the way of identifying real consumer truths.

But now data scientists are beginning to fill a job that we marketers need to be done — giving us fast, inexpensive, scaled behavioral insights without the consumer ever encountering a researcher. Using cognitive computing and natural language processing to gather, filter and analyze millions of relevant category and brand consumer conversations across the web — on social media, in blogs, on reviews — consumers are naturally revealing their needs and workarounds in profound quantity.

Armed with authentic consumer-generated behaviors reported and repeated a thousand times over, CPG innovators can enjoy real clarity in the jobs target consumers want products to do. Thus begins the symbiotic relationship between left-brain function (data gathering and analysis) and right brain emotion (storytelling), developing products and brand narratives deeply grounded in consumer desire. 

Social scientist Daniel Pink subtitled his book, A Whole New Mind, with the annotation, "Why Right Brain Thinkers Will Rule The Future.” Pink's book is a fascinating study of the harmonic relationship between the two sides of the brain. But he may regret putting all his chips on right brainers, when his book so powerfully elucidates how each lobe feeds the other. Right brainers need an insight into human nature to make a story powerful. A relationship that advertising giant, Bill Bernbach so aptly captured:

"The real giants have always been poets, men who jumped from facts to the realm of imagination and ideas."

There is a purity to product innovation that should compel any CPG marketer to continually return to this space for rejuvenation. It's now more than ever an immersion back into a simple collaboration between data scientists who unearth compelling human desires and poets who use them as springboards into the realm of imagination and ideas.

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