CDI - Consumer Driven Innovation

Posted on Tuesday 29 November 2005

So a new three-letter business acronym has been born. Welcome to the world CDI.

CDI - consumer-driven innovation, was the theme of the European consumer marketing conference where I spoke last week – hosted by Forrester. And because the business world loves TLAs, CDI is a term that is likely to stick.

Speaking alongside brands pioneering CDI - Ducati, Levi’s, BMW, Ducati, Anheuser Busch, McDonalds, Paramount Pictures and others, ( I’ll blog these in the coming week), I noticed that three levels of CDI seem to be emerging.

1. Research-led innovation – this is simply doing marketing – solving people’s problems problems at a profit – properly, by researching consumer needs and issues through marketing research and then innovating solutions that specifically address those needs. It may sound like text-book marketing, and indeed it is – but many companies still use research more of as crutch than a torch.

2. Consumer involvement in product/service innovation – getting consumers to participate in the product/service innovation process itself – from votes on packaging/content to beta-testing, to setting up VIP advisory boards of lead buyers who advise on innovation.

3. Consumer-involvement in marketing communications – Letting consumers participate in the production and diffusion of promotional material – from the passing on of ads to peers (e.g. viral marketing), to involvement in the creative process of coming up with new ad campaigns themselves.

The vast majority of the presentations at the CDI conference fell into 3, which is arguably the most trivial form of CDI. Sure using CDI as promotional tool to get people involved with ads is smart – but the real payoff of CDI will be when it leads to the development of better products and services.