Are you looking to develop new products to keep your business ahead of the curve? If so, you need to be thinking about future needs.
Future needs are the needs that emerge at the launch of a new product and its entire lifetime. For example, real estate development must base new construction on needs that emerge from the start of selling real estate and its amortization period instead of needs at the time of development (click for more on this example).
Unlocking the Benefits of Future Needs
Using future needs for new business development has distinct benefits:
- Market resilience: When your offerings are based on future needs, you're better able to adapt to changes in the market. This can help you avoid product obsolescence and stay ahead of the competition.
- Competitive advantage: Being the first to market with a product that meets a future need can give you a significant competitive advantage. This can help you attract new customers and grow your business.
- Long-term profitability: Offerings with future needs in mind tend to have longer lifecycles and higher staying power in the market. This can lead to sustained revenue streams and improved profitability.
Discovering Future Needs Effectively
So, how do you effectively recognize new customer needs?
It all begins with recognizing your biggest problems in assessing new customer needs. Not surprisingly, those problems are mostly related to the future part of customer needs.
Organizations have problems with:
- Insufficient resources: No time, money, or staff available to do the research
- Systematic information gathering: The methods for information gathering are not well-integrated into the current processes. So, organizations search in unstructured ways and don't get the information they need.
- The usefulness of the gathered information: Future information usually is ambiguous, fragmented, and sometimes even incorrect.
- Present Focus: Customers think in terms of present products, and underpinning needs and desires usually remain implicit.
- Privacy: The unwillingness of customers to share deeper insights into their lives.
- Secondary Influencers: It is difficult to understand the needs and opinions of stakeholders who will impact customer needs. These stakeholders could be suppliers, partners, or other entities that are and will be part of the customer's ecosystem.
Overcoming Challenges in Future Needs Assessments
Consider these problems before you start exploring your customers' future needs. Can you free sufficient resources? How can you improve systematic search? How will you make sure that you're getting good information?
I can't help you with the budget or your processes, but I can say something about getting good information.
Eliciting implicit needs from customer reviews requires carefully analyzing their language and context, and you can pry them from customer reviews. Techniques like sentiment, keyword, and context analysis help a lot. Look for unmet expectations and comparisons with competitors. Find out what metaphors and analogies they use. Compare your findings with emerging behaviors in the avant-garde and other fringe groups.
These techniques will bring valuable insights into customers' implicit needs from their reviews. There are other sources and techniques, but these are a good start.
Ready to Explore Future Needs?
What do you think? Are you ready to start developing new products based on future needs? If so, I'd love to help and do a future customer profile for you.
Let's chat today and see how I can help you achieve your business goals.
I look forward to hearing from you!
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