Kevin Lonnie, CEO of KL Communications, joins Sima in today’s podcast to talk about innovation.
Kevin entered Rutgers College of Engineering then decided he didn’t want to be an engineer and switched to Business and Psychology. From there, he took a course in Market Research and realized he’d stumbled on to a profession that involved both disciplines of Business and Psychology. He’s been in Market Research since leaving college and started KL Communications in 1996.
Online communities and panels have been their bread and butter for the last 20 years but they are more recently focusing on customer centricity as it relates to product innovation, and are currently building new tools to help make that happen.
The Growth of Online Communities
When you combine adjacent industries to traditional market research, the online communities space and quasi-online vs. communities and quals seems to be a segment that’s growing and taking hold for many brands.
“One of the things we look to do is establish the value proposition in the community at the beginning. We look to do that both from the participant’s point of view but also from the client’s perspective.”
Online communities have been growing because it’s a cost-effective infrastructure for an organization to be able to do a lot of their qual work. An organization can have 24/7 infrastructure and when you do the cross-comparisons of what it would take to do these as ad-hoc projects as opposed to running it through the community and the panel, it is this cost-effectiveness that is one of the reasons they have been gaining more acceptance.
Communities as an Internal Brand
Within client organizations, there’s dedication to ensure that communities are leveraged on a consistent basis on the brand side.
“We try to focus on some strategic learning, as well. I think that helps make it more longitudinal and the organizations are not just simply being used for tactical, nice-to-know things.”
Having an internal champion pointing out the potential and the benefits of the community and the ability to do things really quickly is often of great interest to potential clients.
Quarterly in-person presentations are just one best practice that KL Communications advocates in promoting an online community as a brand.
Ensuring a Great Experience
Setting up an intrinsic and extrinsic incentive system are ways to be sensitive to participants’ needs.
“It’s one thing to say you’re customer-centric and you’re willing to embrace innovation, but it’s hard to break down the barriers to really let your customers participate and to allow for innovation to take place.”
Reinforce to the participant that the brand that they’re a community member of truly values what they have to say, and share with them how their input is making a difference in terms of the direction that the brand is going.
They are, in effect, customer advisors.
CrowdWeaving® came about due to the desire to be customer-centric and engaging customers at the inception of the product innovation process and was somewhat inspired by the wisdom of crowds and crowdsourcing.
“The wisdom of crowds really comes from the combined aggregate of individuals, rather from them talking together.”
The idea behind CrowdWeaving® is to flip the relationship from the customer to where they’re always in a reactive stage to where they actually start off at the ideation process, right from the inception of the business challenge.
This results in unmet needs becoming apparent, and therefore becomes the inspiration to the internal creatives and hopefully gets them at a better starting point.
Quick links to connect with Kevin Lonnie: