The world of petcare for dogs is full of hacks. This is largely due to the changing role of dogs in families and a growing understanding of the mental and emotional life of dogs. Today, 81% of people consider their dogs to be true family members, equal in status to children. Recent research even suggests that dogs experience the same emotions as a two-year old child.
It is tempting for innovators to simply steal consumers’ ideas for new products, but sometimes consumers reject products that copy hacks. Taking the time to examine the details, context, associations, and cultural elements of a hack, can help generate new and far more interesting ideas. Here are some ways you can do this.
1. Isolate and examine the details
It’s important to think about what makes a hack so unique. Often what innovators find interesting about a hack isn’t the same reason a person created it. Looking at the elements that make up a hack in isolation can lead you to new discoveries.
2. Approach the hack as an abstraction
Sometimes the meaning behind a hack seems too obvious to be true. If a hack seems obvious, try looking at this “obvious” point as an abstraction to get at what it’s really about.
3. Look at how the hack deals with existing behaviors
There are hacks that attempt to change behavior, and hacks that go along with existing behaviors. Sometimes a consumer hack might attempt to change a behavior—but innovation opportunities can find a chance to ride that existing behavior so that it is used as an advantage.
4. Think about the cultural implications of the hack.
If you really take the time to examine the cultural context of a hack, you can get at new discoveries.
When looking at a hack, it’s important to have a deep understanding of what you are dealing with. While more and more consumers are viewing their dogs as children or members of the family there are still many consumers who resist this or fall somewhere in between. Within these groups of consumers you have all different kinds of hacks – consumers who use Bounce or Febreeze to “clean” dogs between washes, and consumers who wash their dogs daily with homemade shampoo safe enough to eat. You might find consumers who use human floss for their dog’s teeth daily, and others who put doggy toothpaste on a lint brush to keep bad breath at bay.
If you take facts and designs literally, you will be missing out on hidden opportunities for huge innovations. Immersing yourself in your consumer’s culture and the psychology behind their behaviors is the best way to understand the intent behind their hack. This allows companies to get ahead of the curve and come up with entirely new product concepts that speak to consumers on all levels.