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Consumer centric innovation – Part VII – screening

Concept Screening

Concept screening is one of the most critical steps in the consumer centric innovation process. At this stage, the innovation team is responsible to make decisions on which concepts are taken forward, or parked.

As a first step, the project team collects input from different sources and builds scenarios that match the project brief in the best possible way.

There are multiple factors in judging a concept such as technical and financial feasibility, deployment timeframe, and consumer value as determined from consumer testing. Please see the previous installment in this series of articles.

In most cases, the process starts with a trade-off between two opposite forces which is often referred to as creative-tension in innovation. The creative camp is typically in favor of maintaining a high-fidelity to the original concept, while the rational camp drives to reduce the technical complexity and cost to mitigate the risk of failure.

Innovation happens because of these opposing forces. Innovative solutions often emerge in the middle as a compromise.

Technical Feasibility

There are typically in excess of one hundred concepts to consider following ideation, and up to ten concepts to consider towards the end of the process, where we are now.

Due to the difficulty of doing in-depth analysis for so many concepts, technical screening is based on an educated guess. It centers around whether or not the package developer has the technology needed to produce the concept, and how feasible it is without major changes to the design. In many cases, new technologies may be needed, and technical screening will need to factor in the cost and the timeframe of these new technologies.

Financial Feasibility

Assessing the financial feasibility of a concept requires looking at the economical sustainability of its entire life, from cradle to grave. This has to be done for each and every concept that is being considered.

At this stage, given the concept’s proposed structure, it is possible to determine with a reasonable level of accuracy the cost of the raw materials needed and also the cost of their conversion and transformation. Also, the margins and volumes for each concept need to be estimated based on its predicted life, its uniqueness, and several other factors.

Consumer Preferences

This is typically one of the harder metrics to get to. For packaging innovation, this requires testing with consumers at an increasing level of granularity to assess the concept’s usability, looking at efficiency, effectiveness, and attractiveness factors. Proper testing is typically done using testing methods that go well beyond simple quantitative testing, or focus groups.

We favor one-on-one testing in controlled ethnographic environments with consumers from demographics that match the package products intended users. This type of testing is conducted in a fashion where quantitative and qualitative data is simultaneously collected. This way, articulated and unarticulated consumer preferences can be analyzed during the screening process to determine consumer preferences of each concept.

Conclusions

As we conclude this series of articles, it goes without saying that there is no single, all-purpose, magical recipe for doing consumer centric structured innovation in packaging. Our intent was only to document the techniques that we use in this industry on a daily basis with tremendous success and productivity.

However, we also do recognize that there are ways to build on this approach, and adapt it to each unique package innovation project as we have done over the past years.

Previous article: Consumer centric innovation – Part VI – conceptualization

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