A Day At The (BigHeads) Office
A cosmetics company comes in and tells us that they’re looking to find NEW ways to improve the “color choosing experience” at mass retailers for their core women customers (in case you don’t know, many women purchase cosmetics and when they get them home, the color isn’t what they expected or wanted).
Now there’s a good chance that the company is expecting us to help them solve this problem by accessing their women customers for insights and ideas, since they are the ones who are most familiar with the products.
But that’s NOT how things work at BigHeads. Instead, we toss up a slide that features a photo of Henry Ford along with his quote, "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."
This sets the stage for us to explain how we believe that brands and companies need to GO BEYOND their typical and predictable sources (including target customers) when they want to innovate…and how the BEST way to do that is to activate an open innovation model specifically designed to harness DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES. After all, research has proven that disruptive solutions and ideas are more likely to happen when brands and companies access diverse groups made up of individuals from many different disciplines, backgrounds and experiences, because it provides the input from both familiar and unfamiliar sources.
With this in mind, we explain to the cosmetics company how we would attack their problem by accessing our network of BIGHEADS, which is made up of bright minds, creative thinkers and problem-solvers who hail from diverse disciplines, talents and interests in order to cast the widest net possible for uncovering inspiration.
They buy-off on the approach and we’re on our way!
Of course, in order to harness the power of our diverse team of BigHeads, we first need to take a BIG STEP BACK and reframe the problem we are trying to solve. This crucial step allows us to convey the problem in a way that will involve and interest them (versus using industry jargon that might be unfamiliar, confusing or uninteresting to them).
After “stepping back”…we determine that the broader, more relevant thematic for the project should be - GETTING THE COLOR RIGHT (let’s face it, that’s the more “human” way to convey the internal “improving the color choosing experience at retail” objective, right?).
At this point, we craft a series of questions that surround the theme of “Getting the Color Right” to probe the techniques the BigHeads employ, things they know, tools they use (or have seen) and connections they may have to this topic.
- We ask them to tell us about the situations/times when they need to “get the color right”…and the tips, tricks and techniques they use to make it happen.
- We ask them to tell us all about memorable situations when they chose a color they were positive was “right,” but turned out to be wrong…and find out how they fixed it.
- We ask them to tell us about products, approaches, tools, techniques, etc. that make “getting the color right” easier and more efficient
There were seven questions in total and as we read all of the responses we begin uncovering themes, tactics, approaches and tools we can use as stimuli to create ideas against the objective.
In some cases, the BigHeads tell us about situations when they purchased something that they thought was the right color and it turned out to be wrong. For example, some BigHeads provided stories about purchasing PAINT that, once on their walls, looked a lot different than the sample they saw in the store or in the color sample book. The insight? The paint industry faces the exact same problem as the cosmetics industry - people buy paint thinking it is the perfect color, but they get it home and find out it’s completely wrong.
This leads us to do some digging to learn about ways the paint manages the issue. In doing so, we discover that “light boxes” are installed in many retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot, which allow consumers to see the paint color in all different lighting scenarios (lighting is one of the key factors that leads us to choose the “wrong” color). That leads us to consider a type of light box concept for the cosmetics aisles.
We also hear from a CAR RESTORATION BigHead who tells us about a scanning device he uses to mix paint so it matches the original color of the cars he’s restoring. We end up getting on a plane and head to his shop in South Florida to see the device first-hand to determine if the technology can somehow be applied as a solution for our cosmetics problem. Our thought is - maybe women can “scan” their skin using a branded mobile app on their smart phone and get the perfect foundation product recommendation from the company. As we consider this concept, we laugh knowing there is NO WAY the cosmetics company would ever have imagined finding a solution from the car restoration industry!
Our final report includes a wide range of content - from product ideas to display concepts to digital executions to packaging innovations.
We present the report and then begin working together with the company to determine which ideas have the most potential to pursue further. In some cases, we need a bit more information, so we visit or invite in experts who could help. For example, we meet with the developers of the paint scanning tool, that our car restoration BigHead had shown us, to discuss how we might realistically apply that technology to smart phones to develop our “skin scanning” concept.
When all of the top ideas are identified, we execute one last step. We post the concepts on a secure online collaboration platform where a cross-functional team from the cosmetics company works together (virtually) to refine and shape the concepts.
In the end, the cosmetics company not only walks away with ideas they can commercialize…but they also realize that the next time they need innovations and ideas they’ll need to go beyond their target customers and those traditional approaches they’ve become comfortable with.