New Concept Review Process – Three Virtual Rooms

Asking customers the right questions and involving them at the right time can go a long way in building confidence in your new product or service concept. We encourage you to leverage three “virtual” rooms when involving customers in a concept review process:

NEW STORY (#1): Share what your new concept can deliver in terms of functional and emotional value. Use clearly articulated need statements and be specific enough that the customers can recognize the benefit of your new concept in words, numbers and sketches. The primary objective of this initial dialogue is to build confidence that you are adding new value in areas that really matter.

NEW WORKFLOW (#2): Use volumetrics, storyboards, mock-ups or prototypes and let your customers experience the functional benefit of your new concept. In other words how does the new product or service produce the performance gains that you shared in the first room? This step is all about verifying that you have achieved the right level of functional improvements in the customers’ environment.

NEW EXPERIENCE (#3): Finally let your customer groups experience the functional and emotional benefits of the new product or service (renderings – appearance models – simulated environments). This step is all about verifying that you have achieved a unique user experience that addresses the right bundle of functional and emotional needs.

Collecting qualitative and quantitative data throughout this process will help you compare customer responses in three different settings. This can help filter through potential objections and inconsistencies that otherwise could destroy a very promising innovation.

As described in Jonah Lehrer’s book “Imagine”, P&G’s Swiffer, a floor-cleaning device, was initially rejected when it was presented through a concept sketch and concept description (room #1). Users didn’t like the “tissue on the stick” or the idea of disposable wipes. How would it pick up all the dirt? A follow-up review, where customers experienced the functional benefit through a simple mock-up (room #2) validated the potential of the new concept and trumped the initial objections. The Swiffer has been a very successful product for P&G.

Perfecting this validation process can help optimize the product and service innovation process.