It can be argued that there is a science to ideation and innovation; it’s not “strictly” about creative inspiration and throwing caution to the wind. More and more, companies in a variety of industries are looking to consumers for fresh ideas (i.e. My Starbucks Idea).
Columbia Business School’s Olivier Toubia and Marshall School of Business’ Lan Luo found that for effective consumer ideation, the research process cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Their study, Fostering Consumer Performance in Idea Generation, offers research to help marketers and research and development teams to extract “better quality ideas from consumers and to identify their needs to inform new product and service development.”
Toubia and Luo write, “As firms… increasingly seek out consumers’ ideas in various domains, they will encounter individuals with different levels of domain-specific knowledge.” They segmented such individuals as low-knowledge and high-knowledge with regards to a particular area of interest. But with consumer segments at different ends of the knowledge spectrum come challenges in extracting insights. “The performance of low-knowledge consumers is likely to be hindered by their lack of relevant knowledge in the problem domain…,” note Toubia and Luo. “[High-knowledge] consumers often do not perform in accordance with their full potential (due to factors such as shallow processing and inattention).”
Despite the discrepancy in depth of knowledge, each segment provides valuable insights on said domain. The study examines the interplay and outlines a process for creating customized ways to mitigate such obstacles, so companies may experience enhanced consumer performance in idea generation. Further, their research explores ways to apply this customized task system to open innovation platforms conducted online, a practice many brands currently use.
Download Fostering Consumer Performance in Idea Generation to learn more about taking a strategic approach to consumer ideation.
About the researcher
Olivier Toubia is the Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. His research focuses on various aspects of innovation (including idea generation, preference...Read more.