Creativity and meeting consumer needs
Today, I find myself fascinated by Costa Dimitris' (Happen Group) philosophy on creativity in the contemporary world of marketing and ideation. If you can hear this guru speak at a conference, you will enjoy his energy, provocativeness, and process. I like these excerpts taken from today's LinkedIn article by Costa.
Normally I don't do so much quoting when I could be writing it all myself, but Costa's words bear listening to and he says them better than I could, at least in a short space of creation time. Here are verbatims from his ideas:
"...the skills behind successful innovation could be framed as the ability to create solutions for problems before anyone realizes what a nuisance they are. Successful innovation is not about dreaming up what would be science fiction today, but about foreseeing what will be plain vanilla tomorrow
"...A large chunk of this discipline appears to be about putting the ‘art’ of being creative up on an ever higher pedestal than the output it generates....Much of the world of creativity is populated by...visionary high priests who scatter riddles across 2×2 diagrams to paint your future portfolio
"...If anything, successful new products and services are like the weather...90% likely to be the same as yesterday’s products. This isn’t to say the world needs no game changing innovation; it’s merely that too many...waste time looking outside the box when their market still has plenty room left to grow and differentiate inside it
"For some of the world’s leading companies and brand teams, success seems based on historical serendipities, luck, or lack of competition
"Maybe creative capability is genuinely seen as something much more difficult than it really is? Then again, if Edison really meant it being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration he would have invented deodorant
"What’s making this all so difficult?
"A belief you need to be uncomfortable to work outside your comfort zone. Funny hats, beanbags, and humiliating ‘energizers.' A whole industry has grown around the mantra that in order for people to take creative risk, they should be made to feel even more uneasy than they already are
"Features rather than benefits? The first decade of the new millennium brought high-end software and technology into consumers’ daily lives, in a way previously unheard of. With it came an insatiable drive for new features in order to provide marginal difference between devices and social media, a trend which seems to be trickling down into mass markets of physical products
"Believing our own spin. In mature FMCG categories...everyone needs to push the envelop on what can be claimed in order to stand out from the crowd. But the line between substantiated claims and spin is thin...that’s when a credible myth all too easily becomes the new benchmark for truth
"Marketing executive’s lives and their consumers’ lives couldn’t be further apart. Corporate professionals dealing with mass market innovation belong to a society’s top 2% income level, with the other 98% (of consumers) being their target. This target is seldom as interested in ‘on-the-go’ or ‘stress relief’ or ‘personalization’ as one may hope
"What to do? Well, first of all assume there is a solution for any creative problem
"Make time, not space. What you need most is TIME. Uninterrupted time to work on the innovation task, alone or as a group – to understand the problem, the context and to work on solutions
"An un-filtered look at the (consumer) context. We need rigor in pinpointing what the real needs are, for relevant answers to pop out painlessly. Real insight carries far. Note this involves more listening and reading to what consumers actually say and less reading of macroeconomic trends or the brand vision deck
"Cherish the small incremental ideas. Most growth challenges do not require breakthrough solutions. Give small ideas a chance and create a culture of rolling them out regularly. It’s that culture that then makes the big innovation easier to create and deploy
"Reality first – then brand equity. Stay in touch with the physical attributes of your product...the touch, the smell, the chemistry, the taste, the sounds…before getting to work on a consumer problem
"Wishful thinking and blue-sky ideation are fine as a transfer station, not the end destination of an effort."
Back to me. I agree somewhat with Costa based upon my work in cultural anthropology, brand development, qual research, and ideation as a way to gain deep insight into the authentic behavior, needs, cultural elements, and motivations of consumers within their own home and neighboring environment. There is, of course, a huge difference between reading beautifully constructed quantitative decks and observing real life within a day of a single household's life and feeling with them their experiences, good, bad, irritating, and boring. On the other hand, it is critical to have the brand equity and big decks in order to put the observed needs and behaviors in a wide context. So, in many ways, I believe in both. The first is identifying the true need -- especially the degree of emotional need of a consumer segment and how or where they are satisfying and gaining solutions, or not -- then lending the highest level of creative methodology to creating big or small ideas and solutions that satisfy the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of consumers and the brand team's initiative under renovation and strategic development.
Also, there's a difference between formulating one's new idea on a "myth," as Costa describes, vs. the use of mythology, archetypes, and deeper emotional-mythological-archetypal narratives to gain a transcendent view of real needs. This is where brand archetypal development comes in, connecting a brand's needs to a consumer issue within archetypal dimensions. Such higher level thinking links both sides within a new light of deeper mythological transcendence that activates deeper, real emotions and creates well-functioning, wow solutions which benefit everyone.
Costa's words have jumpstarted my own thinking about this combination of skillful means into new directions.