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The average cost of launching a new product is approximately $15 million. That’s a hefty price to pay when you consider 85 percent of new consumer goods products fail. What determines whether a good idea makes it in today’s saturated market?

Since 2015, Wolverine Worldwide, a global footwear and apparel manufacturer of iconic brands such as Merrell, Sperry, Chaco and Saucony, has tested and vetted more than 1,000 new footwear styles with consumers before launching the product to market. Through five branded insight communities, Wolverine Worldwide gathers instant feedback from 20,000 consumers monthly, making consumers a strong active voice in the product development process.

As the 2016 Visionary Award winner for product innovation, Wolverine Worldwide has strategic insight that other brands should consider when incorporating customers into the development cycle.

Join Kate Pinkham, the vice president of consumer insights and market intelligence at Wolverine Worldwide, at our upcoming Customer Intelligence Summit in Chicago this September 20-21, to hear her strategy for successful innovation.

Here’s what Pinkham has to say about increasing consumer connectivity within your organization:

Start with your consumer and their needs

“First things first, you need to understand who your target consumers are and what they want. For us, we need to know what our consumers want in footwear, how they use the footwear, how they want it to look and how they want it to feel. We have a large family of iconic brands and every one has a unique product line and target consumer.”

“Insight communities allow us to bring the perspective and needs of our consumer into the product development process early on. We understand their footwear desires and frustrations, and ensure that this insight is at the core of a new product launch. Then we test along the way to make sure we get the products right.”

Don’t just talk to those who love you

“Insight communities allow us to reach our loyal brand enthusiasts extremely efficiently, but it’s important that we also understand the views of those consumers who we want to bring into our brands. Therefore, we have a good mix of non-owners and lapsed buyers in each of our communities and even supplement studies with a general population sample depending on the objective. It is very important that we not only delight our current consumer base, but also attract new consumers to our family of brands.”

Use customer intelligence as a point of competitive advantage

“As I mentioned, we try to infuse consumer perspective throughout the process of innovation. That said, one of the greatest advantages of our communities is the value that it brings to our partnerships with our retailers. When we can make fact-based recommendations on what styles or colors to carry, we improve our credibility and value to our partners. We’ve also leveraged research from our communities to increase our distribution, which of course is a win for our organization.”

Join Pinkham in Chicago this September as she shares more ways to incorporate consumer intelligence into every stage of development and dives into product innovation stories and findings.

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