What is SDDI?

Razi Imam

Social Design Driven Innovation is a process by which we discover insights in the form of language, behaviors and needs of consumers. Using social conversations and our sociological understanding of the marketplace and consumers, we are able to derive insights from social media beyond sentiment analysis or customer support patterns (brand’s original approach to social intelligence). We are then able to use the organic conversations consumers are having to tell us more about consumer behaviors, lifestyles and what they truly need from their every day products.

The Birth Of SDDI

The development of SDDI as a concept was somewhat of an “Aha!” moment for us. Like one of those things when all the pieces of the puzzle are just floating around you and put them together and “BAM,” an idea is born.

It all started in our old office where we had been engaging Fortune 500 companies and solving technical problems for them. With the help of our Scientists in Residence (SiRs) we were taking technological strides to make a difference for companies that really mattered, but somehow it still wasn’t enough. The whole reason we started 113 Industries was to become known as a company that changed an entire product category, to give a corporation a $100 million product idea, and at the time we were not creating the game changing breakthroughs that were needed for this dream to come to fruition.

Our clients started telling us that while our technical solutions were helpful, they weren’t enough. Their CEO’s had told them that it was no longer just the job of the marketing and branding teams to find the next billion dollar brands, it needed to be a company wide effort and they wanted our help. Our next question was, “How are billion dollar brands made?” We met with Heinz, Hershey and a few folks from Carnegie Melon University to brainstorm way to attack this. The answer, across the board, was; solve an unarticulated need of the consumer. And the follow-up question, “What even is an unarticulated need?”

An unarticulated need, or “UN” as we have started to call it internally, is a need that a consumer doesn’t even know they have. We have all heard of an unmet need, but this isn’t about giving a consumer what they want, its really giving the consumer what they don’t even know they want. And now for the question of all questions, “How do we figure out what the consumer doesn’t even know they need?”

Why Social Design Driven Innovation?

When you directly ask a consumer what they need, answers tend to be only partially formed and not thought out. The instant reaction is to be guarded and give a quick response that can be biased for a multitude of reasons. The most powerful research comes from observing consumers in their natural habitats. When you watch their true behaviors, you see things such as workarounds that are the roots of an unarticulated need – something we call, “Compensating Behaviors.” Now, all the previously mentioned success comes from immersive research which is expensive and, lets face it, there are plenty of guys out there doing it and doing it better than we could. So we went a different direction.

We formed a thesis that centered on the biggest change in consumer communications since the invention of the Internet: social media. Up until that moment, social media had only been used for sentiment analysis and customer support or service issues. We found that consumers actually talk about their real problems and everyday activities using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Blogs – turns out, that’s all you need to uncover those compensating behaviors. This process takes a very connected way of thinking; by piecing together multiple, similar conversations or posts, we are able to find consumer workarounds which eventually brought the puzzle pieces of the compensating behavior together.

Social Listening

Using social listening tools, our team reads through hundreds of thousands of social conversations to find the true nuggets of information. A nugget of information isn’t just a cool post; a true nugget comes from multiple conversations. But, you have to find the right balance. If too many people are saying the same thing, then that is probably already a trend addressed in the market space today. If not enough people say the same thing, it is probably just a passing blip. For our team, it’s all about balance. Note the things that are said a lot, note the things that are said a little, and then find the trends that strike the middle ground through representing larger populations while bringing forth lesser known problems and solutions.

Using information we uncover in an exploratory kick-off with our client and our tacit knowledge of the ways that consumers talk on social media, we are able to build a string of keywords that pull in thousands, even hundreds of thousands or millions, of conversations that consumers are having surrounding a specific topic. Once the conversations are pulled in, our team begins the process of cleaning out the junk (the coupon, social bots, etc.) and reading the social posts, which to us have become true data.

A statistically effective tactic we employ is to have more than one analyst reading the data. Consumer trends hold more power if two different people see the same types of behaviors in two different sets of data. Once the data has been read, the team will sit together and use the many conversations and trends they found to build behaviors segments which lead to compensating behaviors and eventually drill up to the Unarticulated Need.

The Power of SDDI

It takes a specific type of analyst to really be able to connect consumer conversations together and find behavior trends. Beyond just industry knowledge, an analyst needs to be fluent in social media and be able to read past a simple tweet and understand the emotion that comes from consumer behaviors and conversations.

While it may sound tedious, reading every single post is what makes our analysts soar. Being able to rattle off the exact vocabulary of the consumer can really change the game for a brand. Essentially, what we are telling our clients is to change the way they think about their brand and get down on the consumers level. Your brand may be indicated for performance enhancement during athletic fetes, but after reading through consumer conversations we might find that your consumers are using it for post-party recovery or just as an every day boost. Consumers are seeing a potential in your brand that you might not be able to see due to internal silos or biases. It doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t using your brand based on its indications, but it does mean that if you expand or adjust your positioning, your revenue has the potential for some serious gains.

— Razi Imam is CEO and Co-Founder of 113 Industries