Firstly, you need to listen to your consumers. I would recommend you listen to at least two groups. Firstly, talk to your existing customers, the ones having fun and ask them how you can enhance their experience. This can be done via questionnaires, newsletters or simply talking to customers one to one.
The other 50% may need to be invited into what the Germans call a Customer Parliament. This is where a group of people are invited to an open forum to discuss ideas and solutions. I have been involved with customer parliaments or focus groups with numerous businesses.
I have found the best formula is to set a time frame for the meeting, for example, thirty minutes, and then keep to that time frame; we should respect peoples’ time pressures. I would restrict the group to a maximum of 20 people. Provide them with coffee/tea and biscuits, but do not bribe them with discounts or gifts for attending. In my experience, when you start a session, you rarely get comments that are valuable; usually you get pats on the back. But, by carefully constructing questions, eventually people open up and provide the valuable information you need. The key is to listen, but don’t justify anything.
Having listened to your consumers, you now have an opportunity to be an innovator. There are various definitions on innovation and when I checked my dictionary I came up with the following definition.
Something newly introduced, such as a new method or device;
novelty; modernisation; improvement; advance; originality
I would like to look at innovation from a retail perspective. Innovation is providing what the consumer does not expect, in a positive way. Innovation is surprising people and as a result stimulating word of mouth marketing for your business.
Innovators listen to customers, finds out what they expect and then provides the unexpected.
In many businesses, innovation is held back by middle management. Fear of the unknown is the biggest reason innovation fails to take place. What happens if it does not work? Or even worse, what happens if it makes us look foolish in front of our peers, in the industry and in front of our customers.
The problem is consumers do not want you to play safe, they want you to be an innovator, and they are daring you to delight them in new ways.
Having listened to the consumer, it is essential that you brainstorm the ideas with the team and get the majority on board to support your innovation. If you do this, you will find that team members will join in with the innovation process.