The dos & don'ts of iterative innovation

Jan 20, 2022

Did you know that only 20 percent of products and services are what consumers really want? Do you want to innovate products and services people will actually use? Learn the dos & don’ts of iterative innovation

Working in product innovation these days means facing constant competition, increasing pressure and rapidly shifting consumer values. The reality is that most innovation processes are overly complex, don’t truly make the consumer a part of the team, and don’t prioritise iteration from the onset. This ends up leaving innovation teams frustrated, consumers with products they don’t truly value, and brands lacking the bigger relevance they seek. 

“The iterative innovation process starts by understanding the consumer pain points and asks: 'What problem are we trying to solve?' Only after understanding the consumer pain point, may the iteration of new ideas begin,” says Dr. Heli Holttinen, CEO and co-founder of Cambri. She holds a PhD in marketing and has 20 years of experience in branding, product development and market research, both in-house and in agencies. 

One of the most common mistakes Holttinen sees in innovation is jumping to conclusions and creating new products without really spending time to understand the customer first. “We must remember that products and services are mere resources for people to achieve what they are looking for in life. When we acknowledge this, we are able to serve our customers better and create products and services they find meaningful and lovable.”

If you are a manager:

  • To get a big return on investment, don’t only tweak your current portfolio. Do aim to create real, measurable value for both the consumer and your brand.
  • To make iterative innovation a part of your organisational culture, don’t spend a big budget on a single test. Do run cost-effective tests frequently.
  • To make the organisation more creative, don’t be afraid of radical ideas and criticism. Do encourage employees to throw out their wildest ideas.
  • To encourage creative thinking, don’t work in silos. Do invite cross-functional teams with different viewpoints to innovate together.
  • To ensure everybody understands why and what is being developed, don’t allow anyone to rely on gut feeling. Provide all product development teams access to consumer insights.
  • An iterative innovation process invites consumers to participate in the process early on.

Rauni Strandman, Innovation Manager at Anora, the leading wine and spirits brand house in the Nordic region, uses tools such as Cambri to test hypotheses with customers to see if they should move forward with an idea or not. She believes that timing plays a significant role in successful product launches. 

“Radical ideas are valuable, however, they have to be pushed to market at exactly the right time. Even if something is big in North America right now, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful in Scandinavia. Sometimes great ideas fail because the timing is just not right. Consumers often need a level of familiarity before latching on to a completely new product. If something is too far from what they are used to, even good ideas won’t make it to the finish line. That is why it is so important to test ideas in their initial phase to see what the first reactions are.”

If you are an insight expert: 

  • To innovate faster and effectively, don’t get 10 different technologies. Do get only relevant technologies and learn how to use them.
  • To create truly successful products, don’t start ideating solutions for pain points that may not exist at all. Do understand and validate consumer pain points before ideating new value propositions.
  • To pinpoint what to prioritise for further development, don’t work on the initial ideas for too long. Do test initial ideas immediately.
  • To see business results, don’t just create hundreds of new ideas. Do iterate only the ideas that resonate with consumers.
  • To create the most lovable product, don’t test only once. Do test frequently and improve the value proposition in between tests.

Become an iterative innovation pro

To help you become a skilful innovator, use the 10 tips with your innovation teams and see if there’s something you could do differently to get a better return of investment for your new product launches. Contact us if you want to learn more about how Cambri can help you iterate faster.