why innovation needs structure

In part four of our Innovation at SIG series, we explore the final stage in SIG’s structured innovation process – prototyping and testing to find the winning concept

In part three of our Innovation at SIG series, we looked at how an innovative packaging concept takes shape by combining and refining potentially hundreds of ideas. But how do you bring a shortlist of ideas to life? How do you know which elements are successful? And how do you decide on the final concept?

Immediately after ideation, SIG develops mock-ups – basic models that help the innovation team assess a pack’s appearance. They analyse its visual appeal and try and imagine consumers using it in a range of different environments. From 15-20 mock-ups, good ideas and elements are refined and mixed with other ideas until a shortlist of 6-8 hybrid mock-ups are chosen.

The next stage is building a series of more refined or progressively higher resolution models, which are more realistic and recreate specific functionalities. These are called prototypes from an engineering perspective or concepts from the consumer perspective.

“These prototypes or concepts are fully functional and pseudo-branded so they look like a real product,” says Ali Kaylan, SIG’s Vice President of Global Marketing. “We actually fill prototypes with juice or milk, or whichever product is relevant, and formatively test them with up to 50 consumers. And for each and every concept, we ask consumers to perform the same task – in other words to open, take a sip and close.”

For Kaylan, it’s crucial to test no more than eight prototypes at a time, otherwise there’s a high risk of cognitive overload – simply overwhelming consumers with too many packs. The innovation team isn’t looking for quantitative testing with high levels of data but qualitative testing where final concepts can be fully evaluated for usability and experience.

Failing to succeed

With a relatively small number of concepts, consumer testing can be maximised in three key assessment areas: efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. How long did it take consumers to complete the task? How easy or intuitive was it to use the pack, and what were the physical and cognitive challenges? And how satisfied was the user with the overall experience?

“We typically have 2-3 main tracks for formative consumer testing, including in-home testing and on-the-go testing,” says Kaylan. “If we’re developing an on-the-go pack, for example, then we need to test it on the go. So we might drive consumers around in a car or van while they’re testing products, or observe them using the products on public transport.”

After in-depth testing on usability and experience, it’s time to choose the final concept. But who or what determines the final decision? SIG actually applies a somewhat counter intuitive process in trying to fail concepts – instead of pushing concepts forward. This means being problem focused instead of solution focused.

“If we can’t fail a concept during consumer testing then we know it’s a good concept,” adds Kaylan. “But if we borderline pass a concept with concerns, and that concept fails much later when we’ve spent €10m, then that concept is a €10m failure. We want to make sure that concepts won’t fail later in life so we try to fail them early during testing.”

With this reiterative model of constantly failing concepts and reiterating, you tend to eventually find one concept than cannot fail. And when this happens, innovation has been achieved and a concept can move to the next phase – preparing it for implementation and market launch.

So what does a successful SIG innovation look like? Don’t miss part five of our Innovation at SIG series when we’ll explore how SIG effectively united observation, ideation, prototyping and testing phases to create its new and innovative pack – combismile.

Want to know more about SIG’s innovation process? Contact us now or learn more about our commitment to Product Innovation & Differentiation.

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