What Is Customer Insight For Innovation?

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A key challenge facing innovators is to be able to ‘see’ into the future.

A new product or service launch has to arrive in the market place when there is a customer need for that product.

This is challenging because every new product or new service requires ‘development time’.

It is even more challenging when the required development time is long e.g. the ten or more years it takes to develop some high tech products.

How can companies innovate in such a way that they are able to consider not only the customer needs of today, but also how those customer needs may develop in the future?

One way is by ensuring that innovation is rooted in customer insight.

Regardless of whether a company is looking to innovate in their products, services, processes, business models or communications, there is a greater chance of success if the innovation is underpinned by customer insight.

Insight is a word that means different things to different people. Some people interchange it with the term market research, using it to cover all kinds of analytical data that a business may gather relating to customers and markets.

The Anatellô View On Customer Insight For Innovation

We believe that market research has a key role to play in generating customer insights – but that market research is not the same as customer insight.

We consider customer Insight to have a specific role to play in the field of innovation and choose to define it as follows.

“A (hidden) customer need in a particular context which when revealed opens up a business opportunity.”

Examples Of Customer Insights For Innovation

There is increasing concern about carbon emissions including both the potential environmental damage and also the increasing associated taxation. Customers want a means of transportation that is less polluting but also has the high levels of reliability and convenience to which they as drivers have become accustomed.

People are living longer, though often they are suffering from chronic ailments and disabilities. Older people and their families need easy access to the medical aids, equipment and devices that will enable the old person to continue to live comfortably and safely in their own home.

In the above insights the context is in standard font and the customer need is in italic.

Our basic needs do not change much over time. From the above examples we can see that the needs are:-

  • Transportation
  • Independent living

These basic needs are not enough to be a starting point for innovation though. They are too broad.

That is why in addition to the need we also must have context to help us with our new product development.

It is through hearing about the context that we can start to think creatively about the problem.

It is not enough to say “we need to create a new means of transportation”


“We need to create a new means of transportation. “

“What kind of transportation?”

“Well, it’s for people who care about the environment and who want to reduce their carbon footprint. These people have come to rely on their cars though, so it’s important that the new means of transportation is still reliable and convenient too. It needs to be able to support them to travel long distances before refuelling and refuelling needs to be convenient...etc etc

One of the key benefits of being able to separate out the customer need from the context is that innovators can then consider how that context might develop over time and how it might further influence the customer need.

This is critical to our challenge of ending up with a new product launch that still meets customer needs at the end of the development period.

Hidden Needs.

Customer needs are often ‘hidden’.

Had anybody been longing for Facebook in the years before it was launched? Probably not, although many people may have felt challenged to keep in touch with all the people they had listed in their various hard and soft copy address books and phone contacts list.

However, as soon as it was launched, Facebook was a huge hit as people realised the benefit of being able to connect with their network of friends in the virtual space. They found that Facebook complimented the connection they had to their friends in the real world. It also enabled them to share their news and photos easily. Over time Facebook has developed further benefits for members.

Facebook came about because Mark Zuckerberg identified a ‘hidden need’ – to connect easily with friends in the virtual space. This was within the context of fast paced lives and high levels of web literacy and web engagement among young people.

He had the insight about Facebook and realised it was something people would want.

Discovering Customer Insights For Innovation

As was the case with Mark Zuckerberg, some individuals, many of them entrepreneurs, are particularly good at identifying customer insights.

However, the fact that the customer needs are often ‘hidden’, means that customer insights for innovation are often not easy to identify.

So, how can an organisation which is committed to innovation in its products, services, business models, processes and communications identify customer insights efficiently and effectively?

The answer is by using proven creative research and customer insight processes.

Business Benefits Of Customer Insights For Innovation.

Using customer insights as a starting point for innovation:-

  • channels innovation efforts towards satisfying current and future customer needs.
  • enables organisations to extract extra value from data they already hold within the business.
  • equips organisations to foresee the ‘non-linear’ way markets develop, thus they can leap ahead of the competition who are relying on projecting the past to predict the future.

Why Choose Anatellô To Help You Identify Customer Insights For Innovation?

The Anatellô Processes For Customer Insights for Innovation

A key aspect of Anatellô insight processes is that they involve creative thinking.

Much of the analysis that companies undertake on their data is deductive. This type of approach is about logical thinking and reasoning – that X follows from Y. By definition, the deductive thinker is constrained by staying in the current thinking paradigm. Deductive thinking has limited value in creating insights.

By contrast Anatellô’s insight processes also involve inductive thinking. In inductive thinking general conclusions can be drawn from a set of premises which are themselves based on experimental evidence. Such conclusions may go beyond the evidence based in the premises. In this way inductive thinking opens up new ways of thinking about customers and their needs. Inductive thinking plays a critical role in identifying deep customer insights.

Anatellô has developed effective innovation processes that will enable you to:-

  • easily understand the process of insight so that getting insights for your markets is an enjoyable and productive experience.
  • extract further value from your market data so you’re getting a better return on your market research investment.
  • identify new sources of data that will stimulate the creative and insightful thinking that ensures you generate powerful insights.
  • make new connections between data sets and disparate organisational knowledge that will ensure you develop insights relating to  a wide range of customer needs.
  • craft insights in a style  that will inform and inspire your innovation teams so that they stay motivated throughout the innovation process.

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