Our innovation process is designed to help our partners consider all possible solutions, and identify the right one that poses the least amount of risk. This means that for every “green light” we give to proceed with a big idea that will work, we’re also giving countless “red lights” to weed out the ideas that won’t. And the decision not to proceed with a multi-million dollar project that won’t pay off? That’s where the real money is made.
Here are 5 ideas our innovation process has squashed that have saved our clients the big bucks (and the solutions we came to instead):
1. AR-enabled car owner’s manuals
Verizon came to us with a big idea at the top of their development roadmap for Hum, their vehicle diagnostic and tracking application. They had plans to recreate the traditional owner’s manual using AR technology that enabled drivers to perform diagnostic tests by pointing their phones at their vehicles under the hood.
While this feature was certainly eye-catching, it tested poorly among users in the prototyping stage of our innovation process. We discovered that users found it to be too time-consuming to open their hood, launch the AR feature, and search around for what is wrong. Our solution? Invest a smaller sum into a feature that creates automatic, detailed diagnostic reports every month, texted straight to the car owner.
2. Real-time driving insights
We also partnered with Verizon to tackle another common driving pain point—understanding how driving styles impacted gas mileage as well as vehicle wear and tear. The Verizon team had ideated a solution to incentivize efficient driving by providing real-time driving insights on the Hum app that showed drivers how much money they were saving (or losing) based on speed and mileage as they drove.
The problem we found after putting the project through the prototype stage of our innovation process, however, was that it wasn’t actually useful to receive that information while driving—and it would be more helpful to download it after the trip. Plus, we wanted to ensure that drivers’ full attention remained on the road and not on analyzing insights. Our team solved this by swapping the pricey, real-time road feature for a simple, post-drive recap that proved both safer and more convenient for Hum users.
We wanted to ensure that drivers’ full attention remained on the road and not on analyzing insights.
3. Personal style aficionados
Ready to shake up their sales channels, a jewelry brand believed their consumers craved more guidance. They came to us excited about the idea of assigning human-style aficionados to consumers to help them curate the perfect looks. So we put their idea to the test—and came across a new insight.
After prototyping a personal curator feature, we learned that it wasn’t guidance their audience was craving, but self-discovery. While a few survey respondents indicated interest in advice from an expert stylist, most felt confident in their ability to discover pieces on their own. We tested simpler discovery methods including improved search, filters, “more like this,” and “shop the look” features to give consumers more ownership in discovering their own sources of inspiration. We also explored the idea of “hidden treasure” promo incentives to be uncovered as users browse the site. Both of these solutions proved more successful and cost-effective in testing, saving the brand the heavy lift of incorporating human stylists for every customer.
After prototyping, we learned that it wasn’t guidance their audience was craving, but self-discovery.
4. Virtual accessory try-ons
Another assumption going into our work with the same jewelry retailer was the idea that consumers need to be able to touch the product and see it on themselves before feeling confident enough to purchase. The big idea was to create a sophisticated, AR-powered try-on tool to give consumers the closest experience possible to actually holding the jewelry in their hands and pairing it with their wardrobe.
What we found in our research stage, however, was that confidence in the product didn’t need to come from consumers seeing it modeled on themselves (in fact, many people didn’t trust the AR model to provide consistently accurate simulations). As it turns out, consumers trust jewelry priced within a certain range if they’ve seen high-quality, up-close video footage of it. We leaned into this insight and ended up with a win-win: consumers were able to make informed, confident purchase decisions, and the brand saved time and resources that would have been allocated to a risky experiment.
5. Tailored veterinarian advice
redpepper is a long-time partner of Mars Petcare, having worked across their dog food portfolio to find the best solutions for a variety of audiences. During our work with Iams, our team tested a big idea to include personalized veterinarian advice as part of their tailored nutrition plan offerings. This would have been a costly and time-consuming undertaking to guarantee professional advice to every consumer, so we ran it through our innovation process before taking the leap.
The results of our consumer insights showed that including veterinary opinions as an offering was polarizing—some dog owners are skeptical of the products pushed by vets while others viewed the offering as a positive, but didn’t anticipate ever using it themselves due to inconvenience. Rather than allocating big resources to an offering people didn’t want, we leaned into using the brand’s robust and science-based data to back the nutritional benefits of their personalized plans. As it turns out, detailed transparency around the product’s ingredients goes a long way.
So, whether you have a product feature at the front of your roadmap or a bright idea for your industry’s next big thing, the best thing to do is leverage a proven process to test and learn. And be just as ready to pivot as you are to push forward. Trust us, it could save you millions.