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As the consumer revolution reshapes industries, how can brands build for the future?

by Tom Burg

Any company that wants to survive the current consumer revolution had better strive for perfect product/market fit, because their competition definitely will.

The whims of millennials are challenging established industries and forcing traditional brands to scramble. Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer models are disrupting how people engage with and purchase from every type of company. What’s old is really old, and what’s new will be forced to get newer as the playing field where brands meet consumers is seismically transformed.

Who knows what changes the consumer revolution will force tomorrow?

Companies that put consumer insights at the center of everything they do, that’s who.

Business leaders are in a race to get to market faster with products tailored to the wants and needs of customers. Traditionally, this involves research teams creating studies to inform strategy, product teams building to fit the need, and then executing a go-to-market strategy.

But in this model, a huge and costly study will take weeks (or longer) to produce results, and by that time you’ll be outmaneuvered by a challenger brand that develops products at lightning speed based on insights they gather from Instagram. Competition is fierce in verticals from finance to fashion, meaning every company must execute faster on a strategy informed by real-time insight.

How can brands build for the future when your strategy is stuck in the past?

Is the solution simply to innovate? Across the Fortune 500, “innovation teams” are being formed, often with broad remits and under tons of pressure. Many organizations know that the most powerful fuel for real, impactful innovation is access to information.

In an always-on, device-centric industrial era, new tools like the Alpha User Insights Platform help inform product development strategies. Companies can now build objective data into their core, to guide the health and development of the business: from corporate strategy, down through product innovation and iteration. What’s more, adopting an insights-driven culture can help a legacy organization truly become more “agile.”

It’s clear that to spark transformation, you need critical insights to drive innovation — ahead of the competition. I’ve seen the case for always-on consumer insights put this way: Would you ever decide to turn off Google Analytics? I can’t imagine a scenario where a CEO, innovation lead, product manager or market researcher says, “No, I’d prefer fewer relevant, on-demand insights from customers and potential customers, please.”

Nearly every industry — from digital advertising and media, to finance and travel — has been transformed by a revolution in data. Likewise, the product development discipline, and organizational speed to market and product/market fit are ready to undergo a qualitative, always-on consumer revolution. Every team can now get the information they need for the highest degree of confidence as they make smarter and faster business bets.

The new playing field demands that product/market fit be as close to 100% as possible. To survive and thrive, organizations must be able to have an ongoing conversation with consumers as they innovate, build and iterate.

While companies of every stripe talk a good game about being “consumer-centric,” they (and your competition) are probably actually somewhat in the dark. Now, you have access to the tools to put your team consistently in the mind of the consumer. And, as history shows, revolutions are usually won by the side that had access to better information.

Tom Burg

SVP of Marketing at Alpha, the platform that enables management teams to make data-driven decisions about users, products, and new markets.