In order to helm a success story, regular feedback is key. Sometimes it’s possible to receive input from a client before work begins and get the deliverables right first time, but these cases are rare. The facts, however, are clear – 95% of CPG products fail within the first year and 85% by the second.
The explanation? Customer feedback isn’t being delivered at the right times during the development process.
Performing market research to generate new ideas is now commonplace for many CPG companies, but conducting further research at each stage is a relatively new agile practice – one that’s demonstrating a truly consumer-centric approach to product launches. It’s undertaking this habitual iterative cycle of learning that ensures consumer demands are met. A recent workshop by a software developer at ZappiStore demonstrated this beautifully.
Tell and show
In one of the exercises, Simone highlighted the efficiency of agile business practices by pairing participants: one had a picture of a house, the other was told to draw their partner’s verbal description. Those speaking used general descriptions: four walls, a roof, a fence, and two windows.
Before long, a series of discrepancies revealed themselves: windows spawned curtains, fences lacked gates, and participants drew a silhouetted flock of birds against the setting sun. Evidently, valuable time had been spent on an overwrought display of creativity nobody asked for. Even features that proved crucial for gaining access to the property had been side-lined.
Iterative communication clarifies needs
Simone wanted his participants to experience life as a software developer. ‘Your team might be equipped with skills and creativity, but without regular feedback from a client, their efforts will be applied based solely on assumptions’. His team is often faced with complex requests from clients – they have an initial idea of how they want a particular piece of software to function, but confess it’s unrealistic to expect every requirement in thorough detail at the start of a project. To deliver on time, and without any discrepancies, is extremely unlikely under these circumstances.
Not only is this ‘waterfall’ approach risky, it also cuts the end user off from being able to change their mind about minor features. New information is bound to arise throughout the development process.
He continues, ‘For a project to succeed, close collaboration with whoever benefits is an absolute necessity. The assumptions made when drawing a simple house are a good reminder: test these assumptions at every opportunity. Ask for feedback as smaller increments of work are completed.’ In doing so, clients are far more likely to be satisfied with the result.
Agile research enables communication
Simone’s invisible house challenge (which is also a fantastic name for a gameshow) showed that a mere initial brief or spec fails to inform an entire development process. The same can be said of market research. Without consistent, relevant feedback, a product is much less likely to hit the right chord with its target group. With new agile research solutions, however, an iterative approach to feedback is both affordable and accessible, providing a handy point of reference to reinforce creative turning points.
A failed product doesn’t always equate to a poor quality one. Lots of great concepts make it to market, but fail due to inappropriate branding, unappealing packaging, suspicious claims, or ineffective marketing campaigns and channel selection. Failing in just one of these areas can directly affect a product’s financial measure of success.
Time and cost is often considered a barrier to embracing these kinds of approaches. This no longer rings true. Automated research processes mean validated data can play a pivotal role in each decision – no more guess work.
Faster and smarter
All of this is to say that businesses face two clear difficulties an agile mindset can remedy:
- information is absent or misunderstood in the communication channel, leading to the creation of products that don’t fulfill their intended user needs, or ineffective marketing material that fails to communicate relevant information.
- time is wasted detailing or “gold plating” unnecessary features, bringing projects even further from their intended end-point, squandering finances, and depriving vital features of creative manpower.
Traditional research methods don’t serve today’s fast-paced, data-driven culture. We’re all excited about the next big hit, but not everyone will have deliberated over their masterpiece-in-progress, alongside who they’re making it for. Those businesses that already adopt and embrace an agile mindset are working faster, they’re generally better informed, and they experience higher success rates to boot.