As we look forward to 2022, we believe the new products that will be successful are those that do a job—not just meet internal margin requirements or use ingredients that already are in the supply chain. Consumers will look for products that help them feel like better parents, successful entertainers, more relaxed “go-getters,” or the best of whatever they want to be.
Let me explain. As professionals who study human behavior and are immersed in innovation strategy and new product development, it’s easy to forget that our own behavior can teach us a lot. Sometimes when the researcher becomes the subject, it reminds us that there are human truths that we cannot out-innovate.
Mission Field is a third-party innovation and strategy firm that helps consumer packaged goods companies—both large and small—with the complete lifecycle of innovation: ideation through in-market testing.
Our team met recently to discuss our own favorite innovations. Not innovations that we have observed or studied—but things that we love and use as busy working parents, caretakers, travelers, entertainers. Simply put, these are all the roles we play when we aren’t being innovation and strategy consultants.
Here are some of our favorites:
MyMochi. It’s fun for the kids without the mess
Karma Water. It makes it easier (and yummier) to take a daily probiotic
Tuck-ins. It’s an inside-out S’more - need we say more?
HopTea. It’s an exciting beverage without caffeine or alcohol
Lentil Pasta. This translates to happy mom, healthy kids
As we shared our favorite innovations, there were some common themes:
They make life better. They solve a problem. They make us feel good. They help us overcome a challenge. As innovators we can get so focused on the shiny object and the cool product attributes, that we forget to ask, “Does this help our customer accomplish something?” If it doesn’t do a job, it won’t get hired (bought).
Our descriptions of them were more about the “why” than the “what.” That is fundamentally what the best innovation addresses. A “Jobs to Be Done” perspective focuses on the “why” behind customer behavior. As the famous quote says, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
When I buy lentil pasta, I’m not buying tube shaped pasta that is high in protein. Rather, I am buying a dinner that makes me feel good because it makes my kids happy and strong without having to compromise my plant-based beliefs. That is what motivates me to purchase. It’s not the fact that it has 2g more protein than the competition.
So if you ever find yourself trying to internalize the innovation theory you are reading about or trying to decide whether you have a good innovation strategy, don’t forget to take off your “professional” hat and put on your “human” hat and reflect on your favorite innovations and why you love them.
In the coming year, make products that are lovable.
Julia Wing-Larson is a managing director at Mission Field LLC. Mission Field utilizes entrepreneurial practices to create opportunities for CPG new-product teams working on innovation, insights and strategy. Visit www.mission-field.com to learn more.