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- 1. forward thinking seriesENGAGE, INSPIRE, ACTTHREE STEP STONES TOWARDS DEVELOPING MOREIMPACTFUL PRODUCTSTom De Ruyck Stan Knoops Niels Schillewaert Gita Coenen Soraia Rodrigues
- 2. 2ENGAGE, INSPIRE, ACTTHREE STEP STONES TOWARDS DEVELOPING MORE IMPACTFUL PRODUCTSTom De Ruyck Stan Knoops Niels Schillewaert Gita Coenen Soraia RodriguesBRINGING CONSUMERS INTO UNILEVERS them act upon the insights and move forwardRESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT CENTER towards developing more impactful products and marketing. The last paragraphs look at howGreat companies understand the importance of effective different elements of the framework haveconsumer insights when it comes to outperforming been in achieving a successful outcome, in ordercompetition. Engagement in learning and keeping to learn and improve our initial way of working andknowledge up-to-date through a constant search to fine-tune our overall strategy.for new insights, engagement in getting close toconsumers and immersed in their daily lives to CREATING A CONSUMER CENTRICinspire and understand their reality and the drivers THINKING COMPANYof consumer value, has proven to be one of themost critical corporate competencies. Unilever was one of the front runners in setting up Consumer Connect programs. Unilever demandsSuch engagement ideally to happens on three its R&D workforce to go out and engage withlevels: consumers to experience their everyday lives. This Hearts of employees: establishing a is successful because of a top down commitment culture of consumer centricity and from higher management (promoting consumer creating a mind shift among employees. centric thinking as a priority and leading by example) and bottom up commitment throughout Minds of employees: delivering sparks of the organization (executives feel the need to start fresh inspiration through dialogues with the consumer connect revolution within their consumers, in order to craft or reshape company). strategic plans, product development road maps or research agendas. Engaging the internal audience Actions of employees: concrete actions The distinctive feature of the approach described or changes in the cycle of developing new in this article is its commitment to presenting it in a products. This level is about bringing way that will constructively generate impact on the strategy into action. hearts, minds and the actions of executives.Engagement requires different strategic thinking. It Consumer&U is pioneering in implementing therequires co-ownership of the consumer insights more classic consumer connect activities withinwithin the organization. This article describes a Unilever. It is an online platform that connects thevaluable framework of how to engage and inspire Unilever R&D society with consumers throughan (R&D) organization via consumer insights, let stories and visuals of consumers everyday lives to form a compelling narrative (see figure 1).
- 3. 3The platform offers a number of key benefits: Creating real co-ownershipp of consumer insights Engage with the consumer world. Its In order to build real engagement with the project, about getting to know the consumer who both at the consumer side and at the company is behind the dry figures and discovering side, our data collection aand reporting are set up the insights in a longitudinal, engaging as a longitudinal, fun and engaging process. and fun way. Research results have more impact when turned into an experience in which employees are Be inspired and gain fresh knowledge entertained with insights or when they - literally - about the cconsumer in general and get can play with the research results sparks of inspiration that will be useful in (>infototainment). Next to that, research ones daily on-the-job thinking. participants deliver richer insights when taking part in research that feels like playing a game Lead to action, through behavioral (>gammification). We embedded such technique change: being more eager to understand into the research design of our project in order to the real reasons behind certain consumer maximize the return on information. decisions and being more curious in everyday working life. Lastly, to bringing A staged apprroach for impactful insights plans and potential actions to life. Our objective was to change the hearts minds, andHaving these three elements is key for creating actions of the R&D executives by bringingreal co-ownershhip of consumer insights within a consumers to the table where R&D decisions arecompany. Once the hearts of employees are made. Therefore it was necessary to get close tohanged, the next step is to capitalize on the mind consumers and immerse in their daily life to inspireshif and implement the new knowledge and and help understand consumer reality. Wephilosophy into strategic and more tactical projects therefore conducted an online research communityThen, getting inspired through connections and with consumers (InspireUs) as well as executivesdialogues with consumers becomes business as (Consumer&U). (See figure 2).usual.
- 4. 4 be able to do even better in the next consumer 1. Engage - discovering he world of the gamification. consumer through playing games 2. Inspire - be inspired to think about yourTo realize the objectives of this project we asked consumer and be triggered to poseUK consumers (N= 90) to keep an online diary questionsduring a week on product categories relevant forUnilever (four chapters: meet & greet, food & The InspireUs community discussions were bettercooking, you & personal care, you & home care). fed with relevant questions as we used theInstead of just presenting the results of this diary executives scores of the games to develop topicresearch in a traditional slide deck, we let the R&D guides. In running the research community weorganization engage and live the results applied game-design techniques which made participating consumers go beyond the usual inthemselves. Each of the R&D employes was linked terms of input & insights generated (both in termsto one of the consumers (participants gave explicit of quantity and quality). The following examples ofpermission for this). The R&D executives played game elements were used (see figure 3).three games (one about each product category)with question about the UK consumer in general Putting challenges forrward instead ofand about the life of the specific consumer the just asking questions (motivating themwere connecting with. Afterwards each R&D on an individual level): e.g. You areemployee got a score upon which they could earrn hired by Unilever R&D: what would be thea badge per game: e.g. consumer newbie, next innovation you develop in theconsumer explorer and consumer super star. By laundry category?playing the game they unlocked the right answersto the questions and additional information about Rewarding achievements (based on thetheir consumer and he UK consumer in general to
- 5. 5 number of posts made and the number of community (again playing on the words used in each post) with badges individual level). (See figure 3). leading to a ranking within thefigure 3). community to go for a common goal); Creating teams (one team focused on food products, another team on
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