3 Consumer Defined Areas Needing Innovation in the Food Category — Maru Group

By Rene Huey-Lipton, SVP, Qualitative Insights

Exploring consumers own innovations is a brilliant and insightful way to provide new stimulus for the innovation cycle and the concept development process. We recently explored cooking and food on our flexible HUB Instant Qual application and gave our respondents the freedom to invent the coolest kitchen gadget they could imagine.

We discovered that most of them invented gadgets that fell into three areas: Planning, Prep and Cleaning. The brilliant consumer creativity that we uncovered, expressed through invented gadgets, revealed areas where people want new solutions, new ideas. These gadget ideas express underlying needs — genuine opportunities ripe for sparkling innovation.

“I would love to have Rosie from the Jetsons! I hate hate hate cutting up vegetables! It is so time consuming and depending on the vegetable (hello butternut squash) it is dangerous! If I could have a robot sous chef that would make me more likely to try more difficult/delicious meals!” — Instant Qual Respondent

The gadget ideas are so valuable as sources of insight and understanding. This robot idea like others we heard, is rooted in a type of self-care that is so important, but so often overlooked in the innovation cycle. Self-care could be a golden opportunity for innovation and there are others!

The joy of home delivery illuminates a deeply desired need for planning help

At Maru, we believe that understanding the intersection between behavior and emotion is critical to establishing the strongest possible customer connections to drive better business results. Our approaches are deeply rooted in the wealth of behavioral science work that shows consumers Feel, then Behave, and lastly Think.

Right now, a behavior that has changed and seemingly changed for good is how people access groceries, home delivery, to be specific. For our respondents it was (and is) a combination of safety and wanting to get out from under the chore of planning and shopping that they shared their excitement about. Prior to the pandemic, this whole planning and shopping process seemed always to be time challenged, meaning their list was incomplete, they never had enough time in the store and they always left something important out. It was a strong feeling of stress that never went away.

Now, people feel that they don’t have to schedule shopping around work or doctor’s appointments or after-school events. And, even the challenge of the shopping list is fading, as items once ordered are now the subject of automated prompts — do they want to get them again? This transformation of grocery shopping is clearly here to stay and it has fueled rising shopper expectations.

“I’d like a gadget that scans my refrigerator, freezer, pantry and prior recipe history then plans out the week, orders the groceries and has them delivered at my convenience. It would only buy the exact amount of what was needed so there would be no waste and it would substitute cheaper items when it didn’t make a difference to the outcome.” — Instant Qual Respondent

The reality of automated prompting in the home delivery shopping list is stimulating a need for more help with planning with the process of shopping. The shopper loves the notion of help with the drudgery parts of the food shopping routine and their gadget innovation shows that they want the current innovations to accelerate further and faster. This is a rich seam for more innovation.

Understanding the emotions triggered by food prep can unlock innovation

The chore of food prep is something that some seem to be struggling with right now-especially some women. For our respondents, this prep was the part of the food experience most associated with anger and resentment and these feelings sometimes lingered through cooking and into the meal, often ruining the whole meal experience for them.

Significantly, the gadgets imagined often had small but important cues for happiness and joy, which people are desperate for when it comes to this part of their lives.

“…the name that comes to mind is Depresso Expresso. In my head I picture a sleek clean kitchen, that feels very sci fi, maybe from the set of the movie Her (maybe it’s got pink detailing, sparkles and excellent lighting for me) and is spotless. You select what you want to make, the materials appear, already cleaned and chopped, you cook and then it cleans up and puts everything back.” — Instant Qual Respondent

With every respondent submission, it was clear that many ideas centered around a core function-cutting the chore, keeping the joy. A focus on positive emotion, in this case joy, as a catalyst for concepts and ideas in the innovation funnel will reap rewards.

Kitchen cleaning and help with organization are areas ripe for innovation

It’s important to note that here, cleaning includes organization-a place for everything and everything in its place.

In addition to the “Depresso Expresso” idea we heard another great concept, the Orgaclean2000. This is an invented gadget where when your meal is finished all you have to do is leave the table. The Orgaclean2000 puts away leftovers, cleans the stove top or oven, the dishes, and the counters, and ensures everything is back in the right place. There is no nagging, begging, or fighting over whose turn it is to clear the table and Mom can finish out her evening with time for her to relax, read or have family game night.

It’s easy to understand that with the number of times individuals and families are having to prepare meals right now the availability of new innovations that would make life easier could be a big success. Every little bit helps!

Clearly, consumers ideas for new gadgets is a rich source of direction for the innovation funnel. These gadget ideas illuminate specific needs and emotions which can be distilled and used as valuable fuel for the idea generation process. Celebrating and dissecting the consumers ideas and looking at them from a different perspective, can provide direction and generate ideas that will drive business.

For more information on the Future of Food, download our recent whitepaper or register for our upcoming webinar on April 14, from 12–12:30 EST. Contact us today to learn more about our world class software, what we’re exploring and how we can help you.

Originally published at https://www.marugroup.net on March 25, 2021.

Maru helps its clients make informed decisions in real-time by combining proprietorial software, deep industry experience, and unique IP in system 1 apps.

Maru helps its clients make informed decisions in real-time by combining proprietorial software, deep industry experience, and unique IP in system 1 apps.