To be truly innovative, we have to force ourselves to look at the world differently. We have to be curious about new perspectives & new interpretations because they help us break away from the norm. By exposing ourselves to new ways of thinking and hunting for trends & ideas in other areas outside our traditional category space it allows us to return to the business and make genuinely new connections.
Let’s say you’re looking to innovate within the computer hardware market. Instead of asking people how they feel about their computers or how they feel about Apple vs PC or technology in general, what if you asked them about a time when their computer really let them down or saved their life? what if you asked them why it felt different using their own computer versus someone else’s? or what kind of car brand their computer feels like?
It’s much more productive to ask consumers a bunch of different questions which encourage storytelling around the product rather than going for the marketing jugular and trying to get people to explain how they feel about your product specifically.
If Telcos wanted to explore how they could get people to commit to a longer relationship (ie. stop the price switching and commit more telephony products) perhaps you could explore Telco monogomy or relationships and commitment? what makes someone commit? why do people keep their options open when it comes to relationships? what can we learn from human relationships and then apply back to the telco space?
If we were exploring a new beauty product we might get women to talk about the kinds of activities or products which make them feel beautiful. Or we might talk about the differences between a good face day and a bad face day. In one project I heard women describe their skin as “emotional”, some days their skin felt tired, other days it felt angry and aggressive if it was that time of the month. Innovative research means looking for new ways to help consumers describe their relationships and feelings.
There’s a million different ways you can angle your lens to help the consumer describe their thoughts to you. By simply redefining your challenge and looking to see what other spaces or industries face the same challenges, you’re bound to tackle your challenge in a new way.
In the meantime give these quick research tools a go
Collage – ask participants to build a collage and to explain the significance of the images they’ve chosen.
Camera Journal – Ask potential users to keep a written and visual diary of their impressions, circumstances and activities.
Behavior sampling – Give people a paper or phone and ask them to record and evaluate the situation they are in when it rings.
A Day in the Life – Catalog the activities and contexts that users experience throughout an entire day.
Draw the Experience – Ask participants to visualize an experience through drawings and diagrams.
Narration – As they perform a process or execute a specific task, ask participants to describe aloud what they are thinking.
Time lapse video – Set up a time-lapse camera to record movements in a space over an extended period of time.
Word concept association – ask people to associate descriptive words with different design concepts or features in order to show how they perceive and value the issues.
For more inspiration the Inspired Research Wiki is worth a look