What conditions must be met for an innovation to succeed?
In every microculture, consumers have requirements that must be met in order for a product to be considered a ‘real’ solution.
The field of phenomenology [the study of structures of experience and consciousness] distinguishes itself from the field of psychology by asking one really important question — What conditions must something satisfy in order to count as ‘real’ in the mind of a human being?
That is exactly our preoccupation at MotivBase. We ask the same question every time we run an analysis, just in a slightly altered format to make it more relevant to corporate innovation.
What conditions must [something] satisfy in order to count as ‘real’ within a [cultural or marketplace context]?
Let us make this tangible with an example.
If you explore the macroculture of plant protein today in the almost post-pandemic world, you'll find that a major microculture shaping plant protein is one of nutrition. Specifically, the desire to reduce nutritional deficiencies across one's diet with the consumption of the right type of proteins that ensure that our bodies get access to essential nutrients.
When we see a microculture such as this, especially one that offers growth potential in the culture of plant protein (which otherwise is going through a lot of volatility), the key question we ask is what will make a solution 'real' to the consumer in the context of this microculture. To put it another way, what requirements does the consumer naturally and inadvertently outline for us to deliver against? What are the must-haves?
Some of those requirements include -
Minimizing the use of processed and refined sugars in plant proteins.
Reducing the fat content of plant proteins.
Ensuring the prevalence or inclusion of essential amino acids.
Only will the satisfaction of these requirements make [something] relevant in the context of this microculture. This isn't a question of following shiny 'trends' but rather the task of understanding a bundle of related tactical requirements that, when met, become 'real' in the mind of the consumer and take the macroculture of plant protein and make it relevant to a broader audience.
Let's take another example - In the area of 'natural' personal care.
If you explore the macroculture of natural personal care today, you'll find that a major microculture revolving around the use of plant-derived ingredients. Specifically, the desire to include natural ingredients in the mind of the consumer relates to the inclusion of ingredients derived naturally from plants and plant-extracts.
This microculture offers growth and innovation opportunity, being in the Early Consensus Stage of maturity. However, for a solution to appear 'real' in the mind of the consumer in the context of plant-derived ingredients, it must satisfy certain requirements or conditions.
Let us examine what they are -
Rich in Vitamin E,
Completely free of any unnatural fragrances (no added fragrance).
Offer natural moisture benefits.
Be guaranteed not to trigger allergies.
Begin with a line of Shampoos before expanding to other personal care products.
Only will the satisfaction of these requirements make [something - a brand or a product line] relevant or believable to the consumer in the context of this microculture (plant-based ingredients). Here again we notice that it isn't about any particular isolated tactical 'trend' but rather about the bundle of requirements that, when met, become 'real' in the mind of the consumer - solving their implicit needs and desires.
Why are these conditions so important?
An understanding of human motivation isn't enough if our goal is to uncover opportunities for revenue growth. While an understanding of the consumer's psychology and motivation is valuable in allowing us to build empathy for the human condition, it's not sufficient in helping us figure out the implicit requirements that need to be met in order to create a natural cultural fit within a microculture. This is where it becomes so valuable to take the approach of examining the implicit meanings shaping a culture and identifying the specific conditions that show up in the mind of the consumer often in a way that they themselves may not realize.
Taking such an approach of examining meanings to decode the conditions for success also has an important side effect. It helps prevent "shiny object syndrome" and allows us to realize what is truly an opportunity shaping culture rather than a tactical blip on the radar that will not yield long-term top or bottom line growth.