Many senior executivesÂ recognize innovation as a strategic priority, but often focus just on opportunities in the short-term. Â At Sterling Brands, we believe in managing innovation risk and reward across a portfolio of initiatives to create near-term revenue streams while cultivating longer-term breakthroughs.
Bayer Consumer Care and Sterling Innovation recently partnered to understand the relevance of big consumer trends and how they might shape the future of Bayerâ€™s business, industry, and consumers — not just tomorrow, but over the next decade and beyond. We set out to identify new opportunities and areas where Bayer might make bold, innovative plays and create pathways to position the company for the future within these trendspaces.
How we did it
Our approach was to start big and wide, charting and prioritizing a canvas of relevant consumer trends that might give us a peek into Bayerâ€™s future; then narrowing-in on the most promising innovation opportunities. One macro consumer trend that we focused on was dubbed Metromorphosis, which describes the social and structural transformations occurring in tomorrowâ€™s megacities.
First, we engaged across the globe with members of the-Collaboratory, Sterlingâ€™s proprietary community of nearly 50,000 consumers, to better understand what Metromorphosis meant and to immerse ourselves in the lives of people who are actually living the trend. Because there was no way to screen explicitly for â€śMetromorphosisâ€ť consumers without introducing respondent bias, we established a set of trend “markers” — essentially, a fingerprint that identified people who were experiencing the trend and who had a deeper emotional connection & level of engagement with their city.
What we found
the-Collaboratory members provided a rich tapestry of stories and examples of how people experience the urban environment. We then coupled them with our trend analysis to reveal several interesting, interrelated themes:
URBAN WELLNESS the desire to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced within the urban environment
PURE LIVING consumer aspirations of living in a city free from pollution, trash, and environmental effluents and contaminants
INTELLIGENT CITY using information and connectivity to drive more harmonious city living
Next, we identified key consumer challenges within each theme, as well as chains of evidence that speak to how people are attempting to address and solve for those challenges — thus demonstrating a market need.Â Together, they served as our springboard to action and innovation.
Transforming our findings into a multitude of new ideas again involved consumers as co-creators as part of a three-step process.Â We tapped into the-Collaboratory and received a groundswell of ideas, sketches, photos, and product renderings — some incremental, some revolutionary. We work-shopped the ideas with Bayer, expanding, pivoting, refining, and blowing out these ideas even further.Â Finally, we screened and funneled the most promising ideas down based on a set of well-defined criteria.
Though the details are proprietary, the leading future-facing concepts that met all of our screening criteria and garnered the most interest from Bayer represent relevant, unique and breakthrough ways to leverage and take action on big, global consumer trends — and ultimately innovate their business.