The classic approach for most research projects is to talk to a “rep-pop” target, often with a slight adjustment that confirms category usage behavior… but did you ever think that type of recruitment may be undermining your innovation efforts? The answer is a simple yes – talking to the “average” consumer may work fine for assessing line extensions of well known product categories, but when you have disruptive, behavior-changing concepts – ones that often smash or reinvent product categories - then you are more likely putting disruptive ideas into a testing situation where the cards are automatically stacked against them.

Consumers’ in a research study tend to judge new ideas by relying on what they already know and use… and as researchers’ Mugge and Dahl reported in 2013, “If innovations are perceived to as difficult to understand and use, this may frustrate and overwhelm [the average] consumers. Radical innovations are very different than the product stored in memories… because they allow consumers to do things they were unable to do before…”. Simply put, the average consumer isn’t well-equipped to think about a radical transformation of their own behavior, so a rep-pop recruit will default to giving higher evaluations of the “easier to understand” ideas, while pushing the more radical opportunities to the side.

Luckily the solution is simple: adapt your recruit to the innovation challenge at hand. If you are working on radical innovation, then recruit consumers who know how to evaluate both close-in and disruptive thinking and feel comfortable making judgement calls between what exists and what could be. At Mission Field we excel at recruiting a specific type of emergent consumer profile that is engaged in the category, can identify the pros and cons of today’s products, and can envision a future where a behavior change isn’t scary, but can lead to new benefits and new opportunities. If you need help with developing, building and testing disruptive innovations, working with the right type of recruit is one of the many things we can do to help.