Discovering your customers’ latent needs


Discovering your customers’ latent needs

A practical field guide for applying customer focused innovation

Discovering and answering the need of customers is what makes innovation truly successful. Still, many innovation processes are focused on developing solutions before understanding customer needs. In Monitor Deloitte’s consulting practice, we have successfully applied many methods for customer focused innovation. In this whitepaper, we offer an overview of six case studies to help understand the methods, challenges and applications.

Why should I apply customer focused innovation methods?

Many innovations still fail and although this is part of the innovation game, we suggest that some failures can be prevented. These failures are not caused because a company hasn’t thought about the right business model or working technology, but simply because they misinterpreted the customer needs. Over the years we have seen a shift in methods (i.e. Lean Startup) that force innovators to get out of the building and start talking to their customers. This is a very positive development, yet we still suggest some changes:

  1. Start your research to discover needs, not just test your solution
  2. Don’t just talk, but use creative tools to help them envision their needs

This article provides practical advice for both these changes.

Discovering your customers' latent needs

  • Key methods
  • Inspiring cases
  • Overcoming challenges

Request the whitepaper

What are successful methods to discover latent customer needs?

In our case study analysis we identified six successful methods that can be used for three different purposes:

  1. Inquiry: discovering needs that are explicit knowledge 
    • Immersive interviewing: perform interviews in the customer’s settting
    • Participant diaries: collect data through a diary with exercises
  2. Observation: discovering needs that are implicit and observable
    • Customer ethnography: observe current activities in real life setting 
    • Digital ethnography: create a customer overview by analysing (social media) data
  3. Generative: discovering latent needs through creative and envisioning tools
    • Customer journey mapping: create an overview of a desired experience 
    • Context mapping: analyse a context of use and visualise the future

What can I learn from the practical application of these innovation methods?

From our global Deloitte practice we have collected six case studies in which customer focused innovation methods have been successfully applied. From these six case studies, the following lessons were shared:

  • Use digital tools: research apps like Ethos of Indeemo facilitate efficient data capturing and easy interaction with a number of customers
  • Include social media profiles: social media data combined with real life data will enhance our findings and make target customers that are out of reach known to us
  • Complement with quantitative methods: after you have found latent needs it is important to substantiate these findings with numbers to show if these needs are confirmed by more customers and what the value is if you resolve this problem. 

More on customer focused innovation

The whitepaper provides more best practices for applying customer focused innovation methods, inspiring cases, and insight in how to overcome challenges.

Do you want to know more on customer focused innovation methods? Please contact Clemence Mul at +31 (0) 6 2321 1377.

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