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Unexpected Consumer Insights Revealed in Kline’s New Research

Posted: January 19, 2011

Kline & Company's new KlinePulse: Consumer Insights of Personal Care Innovation USA 2010 research found that consumers’ attitudes toward innovation aren’t what conventional wisdom has been dictating. The surprising results, according to Kline, may counter what product marketers and manufactures have long believed about their audience.

Respondents offered thoughts on products they would like to see, such as: “If I had an opportunity to talk to an executive of a personal care company, I would tell them that I wish they would invent something that would make my kids want to brush their teeth,” and “…a skin care product that is a combination of Neosporin, Clearasil, and covering makeup.”

Kline's conclusion is that U.S. consumers know an innovative product (in their definition of innovative) when they see one. However, innovation is not foremost in all consumers’ minds. Analysis of the differences between various age and ethnic groups showed interesting differences between the importance of innovation. Some consumers said innovation must be balanced with stability and reliability.

The methodology for the report is based on complexity science combined with cognitive sciences and cultural anthropology. The approach combines open-ended indirect questioning techniques with three other types of questions. It provided respondents an opportunity to share stories of their own experiences with products and also suggest their own ideas for products they’d like to use.

After the user responded to the open-ended question, he or she was asked a series of other questions about that response, which added layers of meaning to the original contents of the story. By quantifying the raw data based on specific value metrics, the results defined consumers’ engagement with products in specific contexts to reveal some unexpected results.