Meet the think tank pairing brands with the world’s smartest minds

NEW YORK — A suppose tank is tapping excessive IQ people to develop new merchandise for manufacturers throughout a variety of industries. ProdigyWorks presents entry to a community of Mensa Worldwide members, serving to firms like Mondelez Worldwide, The Coca-Cola Co., Dunkin’ and extra speed up their innovation efforts and keep forward of the competitors.

“Firms come to us with a variety of developed issues or points,” mentioned Ted Curtin, chief advertising and innovation officer at ProdigyWorks. “It may be very particular, the place they know precisely what they need assistance with. Others could come to us and say, ‘We’re shedding market share,’ or ‘We see this pattern taking place and we need to get in entrance of it.’”

The suppose tank works with purchasers to pin down a objective, then appears to be like to its community of practically 2,000 Mensa members to kind a small panel of “prodigies.” Potential panelists are vetted with an audition query to find out in the event that they’re the correct match for a selected problem.

The result’s a various group of 15 to twenty excessive IQ people with any variety of totally different backgrounds. A panel may span Nobel prize-winning physicists and NASA scientists to farmers, lecturers, skilled athletes, nurses and extra.

“Firms can find yourself with a panel that doesn’t look something like them,” Mr. Curtin mentioned. “That’s intentional. If a panel appears to be like similar to you, couldn’t you do it your self? We discover cool combos of people who suppose in another way than most individuals. They join the dots the place most individuals can’t.”

After establishing a objective and assembling a staff, ProdigyWorks brings the panelists right into a safe on-line portal and presents them with the problem. What follows is 2 weeks of around-the-clock collaborative ideation.

“This isn’t a day brainstorm,” Mr. Curtin mentioned. “They’ve obtained the portal on their cellular system and on their pc. Whether or not they’re strolling their canine, cooking dinner or it’s the nighttime, they’re in a position to enter an thought that everybody else can see.”

The inventive sparks fly from there. Purchasers assist steer the panel in the course of the two-week ideation interval, rating concepts and ideas to create a suggestions loop with the prodigies. Panelists are supplied a restricted quantity of information to assist information their considering.

ProdigyWorks takes insights and analysis from the model staff and curates solely a small section of it for the prodigies.

 “We don’t need to burden them with the identical information and biases the shopper has, however you want some boundaries and guardrails,” Mr. Curtin mentioned. “We give them simply sufficient to run free however in the correct course.”

ProdigyWorks in April was acquired by RTI analysis. Information from the market analysis firm helps validate ideas sparked by the prolonged brainstorms.

In-market successes 

The method stands in stark distinction to the inflexible manner most firms function, however its playful and natural construction yields actual outcomes, Mr. Curtin mentioned. Round 90% of challenges lead to a brand new product being launched to market.

“There’s a cause we’ve labored with all of those firms throughout totally different industries, and there’s a cause they hold coming again to refill their pipeline,” Mr. Curtin mentioned. “The method works when you belief it.”

He pointed to a partnership with Mondelez Worldwide for instance. The corporate requested ProdigyWorks for assist creating improvements that would hold the Oreo model contemporary and enjoyable for its core customers. The panel — comprised of a meals blogger, skilled cooks, a millennial cupcake entrepreneur, a former advertising government, a sweet maker, a culinary director and a molecular gastronomer — delivered greater than 500 concepts in two weeks.

These preliminary concepts had been culled right down to 220 ideas that had been additional refined to 30 viable choices. Fourteen ideas superior into testing, and a number of other new styles of the traditional sandwich cookie ended up on grocery retailer cabinets. Present in-market successes embrace Oreo cinnamon bun, Oreo blueberry pie and Oreo firework.

A panel that includes a celebration planner, a Lego designer, a comic book guide author and extra helped The Topps Firm Inc. develop new ideas for the Juicy Drop and Push Pop manufacturers. The ideation session led to Push Pop gummy roll, the model’s first foray into the gummy class, and Juicy Drop re-mix, an interactive deal with that includes candy and bitter sweet in a transportable container.

Different successes embrace a partnership with Chili’s. The Brinker Worldwide-owned restaurant chain tasked ProdigyWorks with refreshing its menu to attraction to millennials with out alienating child boomers, its core buyer base. Prodigies together with meals bloggers, entrepreneurs and extra created practically 500 new ideas.

After analysis, testing and growth, 5 of the panel’s Contemporary Mex suggestions had been added to the Chili’s menu. One-in-four visitors now order an entree recognized by ProdigyWorks.

The suppose tank’s file of success underscores the important position innovation performs in a quickly altering market, Mr. Curtin mentioned.

“Innovation is commonly a box-check or an afterthought,” he mentioned. “Whether or not you’re tapping into ProdigyWorks, going to an company or focusing internally, it’s vital to have innovation on the forefront. It shouldn’t be this occasional factor that blips onto the radar.”

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