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Why the smartest thing about your brand is your consumer

Consumer needs are more diverse than ever before

The rate of new launches- whether that is a new brand, product or service- is increasing. Trends such as the sharing economy are opening the door for new business models and enabling companies to quickly take advantage of unmet consumer needs and corner the market. The numbers speak for themselves when considering that Airbnb is projected to grow profits to $3 billion by 2020.

This all paints a positive picture, but the reality is that the success stories are getting harder to achieve. Consumer needs are becoming increasingly diverse driven by wider social and cultural shifts, such as urbanization and an ageing population. At the same time, brand loyalty is difficult to retain as consumers are more connected to act upon their needs with a greater choice of brands. Within this competitive environment brands must work harder to focus their efforts on the high potential innovation spaces, and this starts with understanding consumer needs.

Getting to latent consumer needs

One of the challenges when identifying opportunities for innovation is that consumers don’t always recognise what they need. Steve Jobs famously said that the IPod would have not been developed if Apple had simply asked what people wanted. The innovations that succeed are those which disrupt consumer behaviour by providing a product or service that improves what is currently done today.
How can brands identify where there is potential to disrupt?  Once the right consumer target has been identified it’s important to understand the behaviour and attitudes at both an unconscious and conscious level. Hearing directly what consumers want and desire can still add value, but it’s increasingly important to capture behaviour in the context of consumer’s lives and across their online and offline activities. Approaches such as ethnography and passive digital monitoring are a couple of examples that can help spot unmet needs, even before consumers themselves have acknowledged the gaps.

Capturing needs within the Smart Home category

There has been a lot of noise around the Smart Home category but, as the latest GfK Tech Trends report identifies, challenges remain that are preventing technologies from moving main stream. Our latest look into the Smart Home category, which is the focus of our upcoming Driving Innovation event, further explores these barriers and looks into consumer behaviour through a combination of approaches, including the application of virtual reality to step into consumers lives. Insights from this research were then mapped against GfK’s Benefit Framework to clarify high potential areas for new concepts.


The phrase “fail-fast” has long been associated with tech start-ups but is gaining relevance across the innovation process for many organizations today. Whilst the process of innovation is evolving to be more agile, it still remains crucial to underpin approaches with an understanding of consumer needs in order to ensure that any new innovation is relevant, emotionally engaging and meets consumer’s changing expectations. In the Driving Innovation event we will explore together how to get closer to actual consumer behaviour to build a comprehensive view of diverse needs and help clients identify opportunities for stand-out innovation.