Innovating growth through human insight and design — 5 key benefits

Design thinking provides plenty of benefits when applied in the creation and implementation of growth strategies. Fast iteration, early customer interactions, agile execution, a learning-by-doing approach, and prototyping ensure that a strategy is truly customer-centric. Design thinking is a mindset focused on finding solutions to end users’ true needs and problems. Moreover, this strategy speeds up time to money for new innovations and accelerates growth initiatives. When done right, design thinking covers creative and critical thinking, while integrating hard facts with human facts.


 

Pushing into new territories

The key to success in the ever-changing business environment is the ability to grow. Without growth and innovation, businesses stagnate and eventually fade away. Design thinking enables companies to develop their existing business and to push into new territories. Many design-led companies (e.g. Apple, Google, Nike, Coca-Cola, IBM, Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool) outperform their peers in developing market value. They are producing a powerful competitive edge by continuously innovating new growth and renovating the efficiency of their core business.

We have found that design thinking provides the following benefits when applied to innovation and growth strategy creation:

#1 Creating solutions that really matter
#2 Insights through empathy
#3 The full picture through hard facts combined with human facts
#4 Faster time to money through customer engagement
#5 New growth through insight and design


#1 Creating solutions that really matter

Consumers are deciding the fates of brands by choosing products and services that solve challenges in their daily lives. They prefer brands that can create meaningful experiences. The search for meaning feeds into the choices we make in life, from our careers to the places we choose to live, from finding a partner to selecting a brand, from buying a product from a hypermarket to buying it directly from a local producer. Choices — often unconscious — are made at deep emotional levels.

Using human-centric approaches — and not only product- or company-centric approaches — in insight creation leads to creating truly meaningful experiences for customers.

Companies aim to create new products and services that will be both functionally useful and emotionally resonant with customers. Yet, insight creation in the innovation processes is too often product- or company-centric. This results in failures as the products or services are not true innovations and are not providing enough value for the end-users or to the channels selling them.

Creating solutions that really matter requires human-centric approaches in insight creation. The focus of the insight should be the customer, the practices and value-in-use within the relevant contexts. Insight itself can be quantitative or qualitative, based on observation, participation, surveys or even machine learning and neuroscience.


#2 Insights through empathy

Empathy allows us to see situations from another person’s perspective. Companies that know how to get close to their customers’ everyday lives will find unmet customer needs and problems worth solving. This enables them to develop relevancy in their brands, value propositions, products, services and customer experience.

Effective innovation needs to start from empathy. Companies that know how to get close to their customers’ everyday lives will find unmet customer needs and problems worth solving.

Effective innovation needs to start from empathy. This way, companies become problem identifiers and solvers. Walt Disney himself often spent time wandering through the amusement park he created in disguise, buying the food, waiting in the lines, talking to people and observing how they shopped, ate and moved. Apple’s Steve Jobs had an even more provocative approach: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

By understanding people’s behaviour, hopes, dreams, desires, problems and fears, companies acquire fuel for innovation and opportunities for growth. As the saying goes, “To understand a man, you must first walk a mile in his shoes.”


People use both emotional and rational thinking in every decision they make. The more companies understand both hard facts and human facts, the higher the likelihood of success.

#3 The full picture through hard facts combined with human facts

The best strategic decisions are based on both hard data and human understanding. Whereas companies often invest in studying and tracking customer perceptions and behaviour, it is often the “why” questions that are left unanswered and unasked. Why do people, customers and potential customers act as they do? Why should they be interested in the company’s brand, new product or updated service?

Decisions regarding investments in new offerings are often made using only hard data and calculations, i.e. business cases. People, however, employ both emotional and rational thinking in every decision they make. The more companies understand both hard facts and human facts, the higher the likelihood of success. That is why companies need to enrich their business cases with the human counterparts — consumer cases.


#4 Faster time to money through customer engagement

While successful products and services are created with new insights, they also need to be sustainable business-wise, designed to attract attention at their launch and then able to evolve and scale. Design thinking methods and toolboxes allow ideating and testing concepts with real end-users and other stakeholders. This helps the company finalize the offering and create a successful commercialization and go-to-market strategy.

Design thinking methods and toolboxes allow ideating and testing concepts with real end-users and other stakeholders, enabling the creation of successful commercialization and go-to-market strategies.

Aiming for a constant feedback loop is important not only in the commercialization phase but also when developing the customer experience of existing products and services. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Awareness of customers’ problems reinforces the company’s commitment to solving them and creates opportunities for innovation.

 


#5 New growth through insight and design

Design thinking delivers many benefits for growth strategies. It provides tools and methods for understanding unmet customer needs, expanding the current offering or innovating a new one, creating new value propositions or speeding up the time to money for new innovations. Design thinking also helps in improving the customer experience, as it forces the company to constantly check its assumptions on whether the products and services match customer needs.

Design thinking provides means for understanding unmet customer needs, expanding the current offering and innovating a new one.

The backbone of design thinking is insight. A solid insight platform provides foresight on trends, signals, future landscapes, holistic market and competitor understanding and real-time performance analytics of commercial activities. New growth opportunities emerge when these are combined with an empathetic understanding of human practices, life-styles, needs, motivations and pain points.

 

 


Kopla Helsinki has joined forces with Marketing Clinic

Kopla Helsinki joined forces with Marketing Clinic in June 2017. Together, we inspire businesses to create a positive impact on peoples’ everyday lives.

Article by Kati Nurminen, Managing Director, Kopla Helsinki, and Mika Rytkönen, Managing Director, Marketing Clinic Finland

 

Kopla is an insight & design agency where human insights meet business understanding and creativity. We help our clients find new growth opportunities and innovate by designing concepts from the end-user’s perspective. We have developed our own digital engagement tools to get close to the everyday life of target groups.

Marketing Clinic is a leading Nordic strategy and marketing consultancy — we make growth happen. We combine strategy, technology, human insight and creativity to create new growth. We are result-hungry commercial professionals with a strong challenger attitude.

img: Mika Rytkönen

Mika Rytkönen

Managing Director, Marketing Clinic Finland

+358 40 584 8372

Linkedin profile

@Rytkomi

Mika has 20+ years of experience in strategic consulting and change management. “I am passionate about the possibilities the new reality offers for those who have an inspiring purpose, strong strategy and sharp commercial capabilities. I love helping people and businesses focus on the right things at the right time, allowing them to lead globally and leave a meaningful mark on many levels.”

Send e-mail

Kati Nurminen

Managing Director, Kopla Helsinki

+358 40 54 03 663

Kati is the co-founder of Kopla, a pioneering agency in the field of human insights since 2011. Kati has 20 years of experience in strategic branding, concept design, digitalization and customer experience development. “Our mission — ‘less waste, more meaning’ — says it well. My passion is bringing the customer’s voice into decision making and designing more relevant and meaningful brands, experiences and businesses. I believe that creating value for customers creates value for business. Discovering winning insights is a must, but the critical part is turning the insights into action.”

Send e-mail