So what is Innovation Research?
Innovation Research involves looking for solutions – either to known, or sometimes to undefined needs. There are gaps or white spaces in the market where new products or services can radically make a difference to consumers or businesses while creating financial benefits to the creators.
Innovation research is not innovative research (i.e. new or novel methods to actually conduct research, study behaviors, etc.). Rather it involves applying brainstorming, ideation, product development research, or similar techniques to tap into creative thinking and test concepts within your company and its market. Such a process may also be instrumental to your long term strategy since a strong product pipeline is imperative for continued success.
Is Innovation Research for you?
“I have a great new idea for a product (or service)!”
Have you ever heard that, or said it yourself?
At some point you may have an invention, idea or prototype that needs to be researched and exposed to a target market to answer critical questions.
What should happen next?
Step 1. Ask “Does it already exist?”
- What, if anything, is currently available (and patented) that purports to solve the same problem?
- Was there a product ahead of its time, that since failed? If so, what factors led to its demise?
These questions can almost always be answered with some basic secondary research using search engines, specific websites or libraries.
Step 2. If it does not exist, why not?
- Is there truly a need for it? Does it solve a problem?
- To what, if anything would the innovation be compared?
- When some products or services are introduced, they are so groundbreaking that there is nothing to compare them to.
Step 3. What is the perceived market?
- What is its profile?
- How large is it?
- Do potential customers readily understand what the innovation is or does?
- Can they readily figure out how to use it?
- Is there enough perceived value to create interest and likelihood of trying the new product or service?
- How much are they willing to pay? i.e. What is the revenue opportunity?
For the second and third steps, more resources should be devoted to primary research, e.g. expose the concept or mockup to your intended market to gain their reactions and insights. Some focus groups, personal interviews or online surveys can be used here.
As part of such a research effort, you may uncover other ways in which the innovation can be used or improved to make it even more valuable, e.g. applications in other industries or markets.
A final bonus of innovation research is that it may lead to unexpected discoveries that spur even more new product and service ideas to be explored and brought to fruition.