Building innovation – must all researchers be 'vandals'?

Lucy Blakemore
Gravity Planning & Research Ltd, United Kingdom


Innovation is a notoriously tricky process, as anyone who has tried to bring a new or different idea to market will tell you. Having an idea in the first place is just the start; bringing that idea to life in a way that inspires others to help it grow can mean the difference between an abandoned sketch on a notepad and a successful finished product in a customer's hands. The risks involved in innovation mean that finances, time and support for new ideas is often limited, and understanding which ideas could survive in the real world is seldom straightforward.

Market research does not have a great reputation when it comes to innovation. For every case where research has been praised for making an essential contribution to the development of new ideas, there are many other examples where it is viewed more as an obstacle – a necessary complication in what is an already difficult procedure. Add to this those familiar stories from brands and inventors whose ideas were initially 'rejected' by research – or not researched at all – and then went on to be a great success, and you might wonder whether market research should have a role of any kind in the innovation process.