However, with more than half of industry CMOs saying they lack a culture that inspires experimentation, according to a recent study, are marketers overlooking one of the greatest sources of innovation this industry has to offer: consumers themselves?
The fact is, brands can develop superior products, more relevant services, and more personalized experiences when they engage consumers actively right across the value chain -- as innovators, product developers, and as brand evangelists and marketers.
Best of all, today’s consumers actively want -- expect, even -- to get involved, in a much deeper way than the unidirectional consumer panels, focus groups, and surveys that have been the staples of consumer engagement initiatives for years.
In fact, many of today’s consumers feel a growing sense of “ownership” over the brands they love. And thanks to digital technology, they’re able to cooperate and co-innovate in far more fundamental ways.
For example, Volition encourages its beauty product customers to submit new product ideas, the best of which get voted on by the brand’s community of fans and then developed into real products.
When brands get consumer co-innovation right, the result isn’t just better, more responsive, more personalized products and services. There’s also a significant impact on trust.
The research backs this up: products labelled as “crowdsourced” outperform the market by up to 20%.
However, not every brand is ready or able to truly use vital sources of consumer insight like this. There’s still too much emphasis on “the product” and not enough on developing a deeper understanding of customer needs, adapting to a responsive personalized future, or bringing consumers into the heart of the business as active participants.
For example, just 15% of consumer goods executives told us that collaboration with the end-consumer is critical to their business.
The risk is that, in a hypercompetitive market, brands that can’t or won’t innovate hand-in-hand with their customers will simply fall behind those that can and will.
And with large food and beverage companies seeing their market share at retail decline over the past few years from 33% to 31%, while smaller companies climbed from 17% to 19%, it is important for big marketers to find and respond to the trends first.
This is where testing and experimentation plays an important role, providing feedback to help shape the final products well before they hit shelves.
So the imperative for CMOs -- just like the rest of the business -- is to put consumers front and center of the strategy.