“Life hack” Trends As Consumer Behavior Early Indicators?

Life hacks hit at the heart of innovation by finding those little frustrations that resonate with all of us and creating simple solutions to overcome them. They usually involve repurposing existing products for new purposes or using packaging and peripheral objects that are otherwise obsolete. Hacks can come in many different forms, from reviving stale bread with a wet paper towel and microwave to using hair ties and a bandana to make a comfortable mask to protect against COVID-19. This innovative spark was amplified during the pandemic as consumers, workers, students, and business owners encountered new challenges and adopted a “do-it-yourself” mindset to make creative workarounds. The lockdown lifestyle sometimes meant figuring out how to build an ergonomic work setup out of a breakfast nook, make cold brew coffee in a French Press, or host a virtual game night with friends.

Pandemic-initiated innovation is a hot topic, and is on the radar of startups and corporate behemoths alike. Accenture reported, as part of its Fjord Trends 2021 series, that 2020’s increase in DIY mentality led to the creation of new products, services, and even entirely new businesses. People were being forced to solve new problems while managing pandemic-related constraints. Some took the next step to figure out how their workaround could benefit others. Accenture noted that ingenuity often occurs during times of crisis, and this most recent catastrophe should teach companies to ask “what other things could people do with this” product or service I offer?

The outcome for those of us in Market Research & Insights? Broadly speaking, we may see an increase in product related research in general, and in particular, product concept testing studies. From CPG to technology, B2B or consumer, the pandemic has prompted new product and service concepts for many organizations.

Product concept testing and related studies come in various scopes, but most commonly the overall projects involve one or more of the following:

  1. Qualitative testing of product concepts (which may use written concepts, visual stimuli or prototypes)
  2. Qualitative exploration of related or hypothesized customer needs or sources of pain
  3. Survey research to inform product optimization, target market profiling, demand forecasting, or roadmap planning
  4. Customer data analysis to analyze related or adjacent product behaviors
  5. Secondary research to gather competitive or market data