Tag Archives: innovation

Better Businiess and a Better World Via Better Strategic Research


I am currently enjoying a refreshing perspective on restructuring capitalist ideals for modern life. It suggests and illustrates philosophies and practices that both adapt to and anticipate the needs and consequences of a modern globalized economy and consumer culture.

In The New Capitalist Manifesto, Umair Haque talks about Constructive Capitalism; a disruptive and productive way for business to create what he calls “thick” value that sustains.

He talks about “socio-productivity”, which means creating markets and industries for those whom orthodox capitalism is unable to serve…creating “impossible” new markets…essentially giving all of “us” humans the power to play the game and improve our collective experience. He uses the example of Tata motors and their creation of the Nano: a super-low cost car for the poor living in ultra-urbanized emerging markets.

What IF we could use the power of human understanding, empathy and consumer insight to help make life more fulfilling for everyone? I have a wide-eyed vision that through practices like Consumer Anthropology, we can do just that.

Consumer Anthropology asserts there are several contextual spheres of influence involved in the creation, dissemination and evolution of consumer culture. Among those, at a minimum, are 3 C’s: Clients (organizations seeking to sell a product or idea), macro Culture (macro forces and people trends) and Consumers (attitudes, values, behaviors, etc.). Breakthrough innovation happens when at least these three spheres find synergy.

Imagine if every brand actively practiced this kind of holistic simultaneous understanding: of themselves, the world they live in, and their consumer. They would consistently be able to deliver not only better products and marketing, but would likely be inspired to do so using increasingly sustainable business practices.

They would find ways to serve the underserved in unique ways that both satisfied unmet consumer needs and shareholder value requirements. And most likely, shareholders and employees (who, as it turns out, are also humans and consumers) will feel a higher sense of purpose, knowing that they have the power, privilege and obligation to address the bigger needs of the world we all live in. And there the “thick” value cycle starts and continues.

Oh, the vision of a Utopian marketplace powered by good intentions. And here’s a secret you may not be party to just yet: I’ve learned it from years of participant observation in this business: it’s totally possible. ;)

The Brand Sherpa Perspective On Co-Creation Starting At Home for Marketing and Market Research Teams


I have been working recently on a marketing innovation project for an emerging brand.  It was the first time that a truly diverse team of internal and agency stakeholders as well as experts from outside the brand had gotten together in one room to collaborate and leverage one another’s best practices and creative brains. At the end of the day there was one loud and clear implication:  this brand also needsto leverage it’s target consumers to be a part of the definition of it’s brand essence and guide it’s communication strategy.

Open Source innovation is a driving force in emerging brand strategy practice:  bringing outside inspiration from cross-functional teams within your company, consultants from outside as well as consumer points of view.

From experience in dealing with many a brand team, that the issue with co-creation is not necessarily intent, but budget.  Who puts up the cash to make it happen?  Is it a marketing spend?  A market research spend?  Who antes up from their budget to start engaging consumers from the beginning and then keep them involved as brand advocates as well as ongoing voice of customer?  Especially with emerging brands, it’s a tough call to get funding before you can show sales volume.  That is why co-creation is so important.  what you can’t make up for with marketing spend, you need to supplement with insight,  intuition, guts and creative collaboration.

It is pretty intuitive to most forward thinking marketers nowadays that the co-creation story is one that can turn your most influential consumers into ROI machines by virtue of word of mouth alone.  To use a hot market research buzzword, they become “meme” spreaders who pass on your brand message with a strong sense of personal ownership and use whatever mediums are most relevant to them to spread the message.

The added value here is that not only can these open-source innovator consumers be a voice of inspiration and co-creation for your brand, but they can be a valuable marketing and PR asset, continue to participate in research to build and maintain the brand, and help both your marketing and market research teams stay relevant locally by keeping you connected on the ground and connecting more consumers to the cause to participate in further insight and innovation initiatives.

The first step, however, is for co-creation to start at home.  Time for the research and marketing teams to join forces with a unified  vision of  open-source return-on-investment that starts with a shared  budget! Isn’t it amazing how innovation can come from something as simple as accounting? ;)  I have seen this model work so well with clients from CPG sectors to B2B automotive.  Collaboration needs to start with the budget spreadsheets.  It’s exciting to see the new and innovative information and methodologies  and unexpected good will that can come from shared initiatives….both within the company / brand teams itself and especially with your consumers.