What will customers want next?

By Vivienne O’Hanlon

We at Launch22 have been doing some talking about Big Data and to what extent it can really help entrepreneurs. Looking at customer data can be very helpful when it comes to optimising what you’re already doing, but taken in isolation, it has little capacity to generate the radical insights that can form the basis of a truly new idea. However, neither is it enough to simply ask the customer what they want. As Steve Jobs famously observed;

“Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

In any case, consumer behaviours and mindsets are changing more rapidly and more unpredictably than ever before. So, what’s the best way to deal with this? In a consumer arena characterised by constant change and hyper-competition, instead of looking at customer data, to anticipate what people will want next we should start looking at businesses. By looking at businesses, we can begin to identify the innovations that are creating new customer expectations.

What Uber have done, for example, is not only revolutionise transport, but bring about a change in customer expectations. People now expect to be able to pull out their phones and have a taxi arrive within minutes, at a reasonable fare. People now expect convenience and value to be available at their fingertips.

Launch22 member Laurent Antoine Faboumy is also tuned in to emerging customer expectations. Kwaleö, his company, brings fashion and technology together to allow customers “to shop exactly as you would in person — be it by your individual style, your personality, the occasion, the weather or your current mood.”

Our members at Launch22 are inspiring us constantly with their ideas. We are fascinated by how they are identifying, addressing and creating these new demands. Fundamentally, a business that can take off is one which addresses a basic human need in a new way. This is when a change in behaviour, attitude or expectation occurs and consumer trends emerge. All a consumer trend is, really, is something new that people are doing in order to fulfil a desire they’ve always had.

Think about how innovation in the technology around you has changed the way the world meets and satisfies your human needs. Is this something your venture could do? If you start by examining innovation, and notice the impact it has on customer expectations, your next big idea could become the next big thing.