Find your Innovation MVP
The Start-Up Book for Corporate Innovators
There’s a great new book out on innovation called “The Lean Start-Up” featured on the cover of thismonth’s Inc. Magazine. While the title might sound like it is just for start-ups, this book provides a great road map for corporate innovation.
The main premise of the book is that once you have an idea for a new product or service, you need to find the MVP for it. MVP is Minimum Viable Product.
The whole idea is to find something you can put into a selling test early in the process. This is the only way to screen the concept and build the best proposition.
This is something we strongly believe in, and is the main premise behind the GameChanger Retail Lab™.
The GameChanger Retail Lab allows companies to test early stage products/ concepts in real stores with real shoppers spending real money. The program is 100% turn-key, cost-effective and flexible.
Getting the MVP
“The Lean Start-Up” was written by Eric Ries, a serial entrepreneur whose latest start-up, IMVU (an online social network) is now up to $50 million in revenue and 60 million customers.
Ries learned the hard way, by wasting money and time on an expensive build-out of IMVU only to find out that it wasn’t exactly what consumers were looking for. Through his mistakes, he came up with a process called “Build, Measure, Learn.” The whole idea is build inexpensive prototypes (MVPs) and get them into selling tests like the Retail Lab.
The MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is essentially the lowest-cost test product that still delivers your core concept to consumers. The goal is not to perfect the product, and many MVPs might have flaws, like the wrong package, aesthetics or other features. That’s OK. It is all about getting real-market learning through transactional research – so you can ultimately build the right product.
The cost and time to produce an MVP is generally a small fraction of the finished offering – but the learning is powerful. It is difficult to get an accurate read on product concepts using traditional research tools. With transactional testing during the development cycle, you have a much better chance of building a finished product that will sell.
At GameChanger we are helping many of our clients (including Fortune 500 companies) source MVPs from our network of suppliers. We work with companies in wide range of categories – including food, dairy, chemicals, pet supplies, hard goods – to source MVPs.
Most Retail Labs can be conducted with just 1000 units of product or less, so the cost to supply MVP products is small – often $50K or less.
At IMVU, Ries and his team thought they understood consumers and the market based on upfront consumer research, but they quickly learned when they launched the product that target consumers viewed it as “not cool.” It was only through iterative consumer feedback to live working versions of the product that they were able to uncover consumers’ true desires and build the right product.
We often find the same thing on many of the projects we work on in packaged goods – small adjustments made to the proposition once you are in market can make a big difference in purchase interest. The reason why over 90% of all new products fail is they are built based entirely on traditional consumer research and then launched in an inflexible fashion. Building and adjusting products in the early stages based on real market purchasing gives you a much better chance of success.
Our Retail Lab is set up to allow you to make changes during the market test – so you will never waste an entire test cycle. If a product isn’t selling, we will go into market and make adjustments for you to see if we can change the outcome.
In his book, Ries has several other examples of companies that thought they understood what the market wanted only to be dismayed that what they built wasn’t selling. By starting with an MVP product and making it part of the development process, you can avoid these pitfalls – and save money.
We are now conducting market tests for several companies with MVP products – and the learning is fantastic. Overall the process is faster, the learning richer – and the ability to end up with the right product, much stronger. Our clients are also saving on development costs, because this process is more efficient.
Large companies are sometimes skittish about selling MVP products, even on a small-scale test basis, due competitive issues and perceived risk. By using GameChanger as your MVP supplier, we can provide a level of insulation. We take on all of the product risk, and handle all sourcing, legal and regulatory issues. Many of our tests are set up under new brands using GameChanger UPC Codes – so competitors, suppliers, customers have no way of knowing who is really conducting the test.
The MVP concept is particularly valuable for disruptive innovations where the outcome is less predictable, and for products that might potentially require high capital or meaningful development time. In almost any category we can help you source an MVP Product in just weeks through our network.
If you want to learn more about our program or have a product concept you’d like to test, contact Nikki or Kory at firstname.lastname@example.org.