At ZappiStore, we have continued to lead the charge in presenting the fact that agile research is not a method, but rather a mindset. Part of it is using the myriad of tools that you have at your disposal, both modern fast turnaround tools, as well as traditional and time tested methodologies (or in the case of the LinkNow suite available on ZappiStore, a combination of both). However one of the most important parts of calibrating your agile research mindset, is the foundational understanding of creating the Minimum Viable Insight (MVI) that will help you move your development process into the next stage or iteration.
So what is the Minimum Viable Insight? Taking a page from the “Lean Startup” business model, the MVI is in a sense similar to the minimum viable product, that it is the highest amount of return for the lowest amount of risk. In a sense, the MVI is the highest value insight delivered with the least possible amount of resources, pertaining to both time and money. The difference with MVI is that what is asked of it is different at each stage of the development process, for which there are a plethora of research methodologies and tools that apply. Used together, and with an agile mindset, we bring the strongest possible ideas to fruition, for the least amount of resources spent.
Perhaps the most complicated part of MVI, or developing MVI to take forward is during the whitespace part of idea creation. In the consumer insights function, this is historically where we have spent the least amount of resources, and yet it is perhaps where we should be spending almost all of our time and effort. Understanding the macro levels of who we are as humans and identifying trends leads to opportunity. Given our complex nature and the constant change in our behavior given the continued interconnectivity of the world, combined with the classic forces of human geographical shifters of economics, climate, and even war. From here our Minimum Viable Insight should include a framework from which we can pull and generate ideas. We begin to create ideas from a core understanding of the way humans interact with the world, and what we create from here are opportunities to enhance their lives from the smallest to the biggest way possible.
An idea is just a starting point, pulling from the framework generated as you continue to core human characteristics you begin to generate an idea. Inevitably you will have multiple iterations of a single concept, sometimes with very wide variations between them. Proceeding through the development pipeline for products or campaigns can be a huge drain on resources, so at this early stage, obtaining the Minimum Viable Insight means being able to go ahead with concepts that are the most likely to concede. It is important to kill off ideas that are not going to be viable so that the right ideas can flourish and grow to their full potential as they enter the idea optimization phase.
Most of the time during the idea generation phase you will come out with a few ideas that have strong market potential. Even in the rare case that you have a clear winner, there is often some idea optimization and refinement that needs to take place in order to make sure that you enter into the market with a clear winner. Often when we talk about idea optimization, we talk about making sure that we understand what the strengths and weaknesses are about an individual concept, thus we begin to understand exactly what is driving the concept in the right direction when it comes to exciting the consumers. Your Minimum Viable Insight should give you an idea of these strengths and weaknesses, and also the ability to action upon them. At ZappiStore, we are constantly recommending tools that include heat maps so you can understand what is driving the positive and negative reactions to a concept, such as the Impackt Lite tool from MMR or our own Creative Test for video or static. This allows you to pull together strong features from multiple concepts, and amalgamate them into one super concept from which you can begin prototyping.
Early versions often fail before they hit the market – in fact 3/4 of new FMCG products fail within the first year, there is a lot of work to be done before the final push. Getting the right color combinations, making sure the price is optimal, and testing the smallest details is a constant battle in the consumer insights process. This is still just as important however, as we need to be able to understand what elements have the highest market potential now that the idea is concrete. This is perhaps the most iterative part of the process, as minor tweaks and adjustments get in the way of the overall outreach strategy.
Throughout the creative process there are iterations and alterations that need to be made as you work towards something that is going to grab the hearts and minds of the consumer. From a research standpoint, achieving Minimum Viable Insight at each stage of the process helps to marry the research and insights function to the creative process, the way it should have always been. Changing the mindset from a strict and rigid structure to an agile, almost startup like mindset, will allow for a happy marriage between two vital business functions. If you ever need any help in repairing that relationship, just call ZappiStore, your research and creative marriage counsellor.