Simply Better by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan provides a definitive argument regarding the necessity of brands being able to find out exactly what consumers want , rather than simply delivering a solution that is better than its competitors. Surprisingly, it encourages step-by-step innovation, compared to blue sky thinking, but why?
Naturally, radical innovation is more likely to get you noticed; however the longevity of the product or campaign is reliant on the quality of obtainable research, previously conducted by marketing strategists. Hence, this will generally determine how long it will survive before it starts to annoy consumers. This philosophy tends to lend itself more towards incremental rather than radical change, as it is less unpredictable and easier to control.
So is it better off for an advertising agency to be pioneering or responsive? Pioneers, like ClustaLabs and Ogilvy Labs are heavily dependent on research and development, enabling them to become technical leaders within their field, however this proactive approach can sometimes be risky. Responsive companies, who tend to be in-house design teams, deliberately observe the success of existing innovations that have opened up new markets, immediately “jumping on the bandwagon” if they spot the potential.
At ClustaLabs, we realise the important of getting the correct balance between radical and incremental innovation. As the word innovation is being used everywhere today, the lines between these two fields are becoming blurred, as seen at the 2010 Innovation Summit:
Let’s take Phillips and Apple for example, both commonly perceived as true innovators, yet they are much less radical than one may think.
Philips current strategy is to leverage existing technologies to meet newly-identified customer needs, better than their competitors, in regards to lighting. They continually find new and innovative ways of marketing a light bulb; however at the end of the day, it is still an electric light bulb, invented in 1878 by Thomas Edison. The same goes with Apple. Steve Jobs did not invent the MP3 player, it was a German company called Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, but what Apple have done is to innovatively break down the barriers of human-computer interfacing, to invent a more tactile, user-centered experience.
ClustaLabs understand that customers and markets do not always welcome innovation unless the benefits are obvious, which is why we take care with our research and development to understand what they want and what they need. This takes time, a luxury that many advertising agencies don’t have. That is what makes us different; we have the time to creative and time to innovate.