Not Consumer Insights but Consumer Discoveries

Yet another popular online publication link baits the entire design industry by revisiting the whole “User Centered Innovation is not really innovation” debate. I mean, did we not discussed this whole “User Centered Innovation is Dead” thing more than a year ago (in February 2010)? I thought we had already decided where the strengths and weaknesses of this activity or process lie and have all moved on?

Fortunately when social media often scrapes the bottom of the barrel so that it can whore itself for traffic, wonderful gems occasionally appear. Reminding me of an 80’s talk show host, the gentleman in the YouTube video above is actually Guy Murphy, Worldwide Planning Director at JWT London. Check out that wallpaper!
He waxes lyrical about the problems with Consumer Insights (the cornerstone of User Centered Innovation) and how it is most of the time really Consumer Obvious instead. I like how JWT Planning (what do they do again?) uses instead the term Consumer Discoveries to describe this whole exercise. More importantly, Guy highlights, with great examples, how Consumer Discoveries can come from any part of the design process. Nice.
Hope you enjoyed this video, I know I did, I watched it twice. Thanks to the folks at Sense Worldwide and @drewpasmith (who works there) for the link.

2 Comments
  • GINA

    March 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm Reply

    Intresting! .. though definetly a subject that needs some bases on marketing branding and other basic info. Is it possible for someone to bring me a link or two on this subject so I can use it with my students .. Thanks ahead.

  • Tim Fife

    April 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm Reply

    I agree with Gina, very interesting. However, it sounds to me that Guy is much more focused on branding and marketing than design and innovation. And in those terms, I agree with him. Insights are the fuel to help come up with new things (products, services, offerings). He seems to be in the business of coming up with new messages and branding (or at least that’s what his examples illustrate). Coming up with messages or brands requires that you already have the things whose value you are trying to communicate. Basically, if you’ve already gotten to the point that you are working on branding or messaging, and you *haven’t* yet gained any insight into your customer, you’re too far behind.
    It seems that this is a good example of not knowing when to appropriately search for and use customer insights. And perhaps that his point, business has become enamoured with the idea of ‘customer insights’, but doesn’t actually know what they are for or when to use them. So they ask for them all the time.
    (Incidentally, I only wish this were true. Working in Australia, I can tell you that *no* company in this region works under “the tyranny of consumer insight”. Designers in Australia often find themselves fighting with business clients to invest in gathering usable insights from customers!)

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