Know your customer: The key to innovation success

Kiwi ingenuity and the ‘number 8 wire’ mentality is as strong as ever. Especially when it comes to innovating new products or coming up with a crafty solution to bring it to market. 

At the final Marketing Association Brainy Breakfast of 2018 three award winning New Zealand brands - T&G Global, Earthwise and The AA, shared how they successfully launched new products, extended into new categories, or stood out in a crowded market to deliver innovative new solutions for customers.

Responding to market change, these organisations identified gaps, crafted the perfect offering to fill them, and then delivered an exceptional marketing campaign to bring their new offerings to market.

So, what did we learn?
  

Find what resonates with consumers 

Dad jokes are always a winner, and Brendon Gleeson, Managing Director of Tenfold Creative did not disappoint. ‘What do you call a low carb potato?’

A LotatoTM of course. Armed with an attention-grabbing name and a highly effective PR campaign, the Lotato became the hottest-potato in Aotearoa.

T&G Global understood that to rebrand the humble spud, they needed to tap into what was important to their target market. They saw an opportunity in the growth of the low-carb movement, and the values of ‘health’, ‘natural’, and ‘local’.

Similarly, when Earthwise looked to launch a new cosmeceuticals brand, Glow Lab, they needed to understand how their product met consumer needs and ensure their message resonated with that. As New Zealanders become increasingly passionate about the environment, they want natural, local products that are as good for the environment as they are for their skin. 

Tapping into these consumer needs and ensuring their brand messages aligned with it was one of the reasons that both these products have been so successful since their release to market.
 

Break down the barriers to purchase 

While the natural skincare category is growing in New Zealand, there are few brands that sit  at a price point that’s accessible to the average consumer. Launching into this gap seemed like a no-brainer. However, despite this desire for natural, cruelty free, environmentally friendly products, many consumers are wary of their efficacy in comparison to the big name, international, well established brands. 

Glow Lab couldn’t just place the product on their shelf and hope that people took notice and gave it a try. Kerry Tormane, Marketing Manager from Earthwise Group shared that “just existing on a shelf is quite dangerous. You need to get the word out”.

So, rather than just relying on the credentials of their scientifically proven ingredients, Glow Lab encouraged consumers to try the product for themselves with a trial pack and free samples. This was complemented with a PR and influencer campaign to drive buzz about the brand and products. And it worked – once consumers tried the product, they became advocates.

Removing barriers to purchase was also behind the Lotato PR driven launch. Before they came up with their name, low-carb potatoes weren’t considered an innovative or ‘different’ enough product for retailers.

Michelle Singh, Marketing Manager for NZ, T&G Global and the mastermind behind the Lotato, said that as marketers, their challenge was to ‘add value to the products and services we represent, and move it as far away from a commodity as humanly possible.’  Easier said than done, when your product is a potato.

So, they changed the name and sent Lotatoes and recipes to the media and influencers, along with a detailed media release and infographic outlining the health benefits of the product. The Lotato went viral and promptly sold out around the country.

For the Lotato to be successful it couldn’t ‘just’ be low carb. It needed to taste just as good as other potatoes and connect to New Zealand attitudes, provenance and authenticity. Rather than trying to sell the product, they sold what made it special and unique, and like no other potato you’ve ever tried before.

 

Respond to customer needs and iterate

Now, not all new products or services can be as sexy as the potato, or as simple to align with a customer need – healthy, delicious and low carb. When the AA was looking to launch their Home Response service – a home version of their Roadside Response services – they initially thought to offer it in a similar format. A member calls with an issue, and a tradie would be dispatched to you within the hour. 

What they discovered however, was because the homeowner wasn’t typically stuck on the side of the road as with Roadside Response, they were happy to wait a little longer for assistance. So, they changed their model to allow customers to book in a tradesperson when convenient to them.

They also looked to understand the frustrations consumers had with traditional trade services. Market research showed that common pain points were lack of responsiveness, late tradies, differences between the quote and the final cost or actually finding a tradesperson to do the job. AA Home Response responded by offering a one-stop source of reliable trade services with a transparent pricing schedule.

A key to the success of this new service was ‘acting like a start-up’, as Sarah Gibson, Marketing Manager for AA Membership and Brand put it. This enabled them to get a viable product out to market quickly and test the infrastructure, platform and service delivery capability before rolling it out wider across the country. It also meant they could change aspects of the service as customer indicated where it didn’t quite work. 

 

The key to innovation success is knowing your customers 

While all these brands had amazing, innovative marketing campaigns to bring their product to market, the products themselves were also innovative.

By understanding market trends, customer needs and pain points they were able to develop the products and services that would fulfil them. Without innovation these brands would not be expanding, growing and continuing to stay relevant in an ever-changing market. 

We wanted to know more, so we asked Brainy Breakfast attendees what drove innovation in their organisation.

The majority – 50% - revealed that it was to meet customer needs, followed by wanting to stand out from their competitors and supporting business growth.

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When we asked what their favourite innovative organisations were and why, the reason often circled back to these companies keeping their customers at the heart of what they do, sometimes even anticipating a customer’s needs before they themselves know it. The other key reason these organisations stood out to the attendees was their continuous pushing of the boundaries – furthering their use of technology to up the customer experience and differentiating themselves from the competitors to gain that competitive edge.

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