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How social listening can unlock new trends

Venu Madhav 
General Manager
Kantar, Worldpanel Division


Amira Khanifah
Senior New Business Development Manager
Kantar, Worldpanel Division

Consumer-led innovation

How social listening can unlock new trends

One of the key triggers of product innovation is the study of how consumers behave and interact with a category. This is traditionally done through slice-of-life observation, during which manufacturers and researchers watch how consumers use their products in order to identify to make consumers’ lives easier or better. However, the rise of social media provides a new way to observe consumers – a place where people willingly express their preferences – and this can undoubtedly have a major influence on product innovation. Brands have access to information about billions of connections, choices and decisions. They should use this to focus more closely on keeping up with their consumers rather than trying their competition, and the best way to do this is to listen.

Kantar, Worldpanel Division, Indonesia data shows that new brands and products just keep on coming. We have seen more than 1,000 new brand launches over the last two years vying for Indonesian consumers’ attention. Social media can be a useful way to solicit consumer feedback on a brand’s products and services, but in any innovation strategy, it should be seen as just one element. Bringing our brand closer to the consumers through both offline and online activations can help to gauge consumers’ interest and receive instant feedback. When brands listen to what consumers want, and are seen to be doing that, it helps a brand stand out in consumers’ minds.

Here are three approaches to innovation and new product development base on careful listening to what consumers want and think:

  1. Muslim Values: Hijab and Halal are Critical

Indonesian consumers take pride in maintaining local values. The country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world and, over the past decade, we have seen a growing trend in buying halal and, among women, wearing the hijab. Brands that keep this in mind have been enjoying significant growth. Take Wardah for example - focusing not just on hijab-wearing consumers, Wardah keeps on innovating to cater to Indonesian women’s aspirations to look and feel good. The brand has carefully selected brand ambassadors who embody its values, and enjoys a rising number buyers and growing sales.

Another example of innovation riding on the halal wave is dishwashing product Sunlight Habbatussauda. Habbatussauda, also known as black seed, is a powerful antioxidant mentioned in the Al-Bukhaari Muslim text, in which Abu Hurayrah says he heard the Messenger of Allah say of the black seed: “In it there is healing for every disease, except as-saam (death).” 

  1. Importing Flavor Trends

Many Indonesian trends are being sparked by consumer shifts and ideas from other countries. Through social media, consumers are exposed to new things from different regions without having to even look up from their phone. We saw the Samyang Korean noodle phenomenon a couple years ago, inspired by the wave of K-culture spanning entertainment, beauty and culinary experiences among Indonesian consumers. The exposure of Indonesian consumers palates to new, different and unique tastes has inspired several brands to add new flavors to their brands’ portfolios. Gery Malkist biscuits have innovated with the launch of green tea and cheese flavors; while biscuit brand Roma has launched tiramisu and sweet cheese flavors.

It’s not just international flavors driving innovation; local delicacies have also inspired brands to evolve and innovate. Riding on the local preference for coconut, Gery Malkist Coconut has been another success story in the biscuit category, while Frisian Flag’s Coconut Liquid Milk has shaken up the ready-to-drink milk category.

  1. Inspiration From Consumers

Consumer-driven innovation comes about in response to an unmet need in the market, or from consumers seeking to fill a void or expand their range of experience. When consumers experiment and innovate, that innovation can be embraced and promote by the brand. Let’s take a look at the massively successful trend of es kepal Milo (Milo over ice-cream). This trend originated in Malaysia and was made popular by one small ice-cream stall in Yogyakarta and has since become a national phenomenon. Other consumer-led innovations include new ways of preparing Indomie noodle dishes, sold at roadside warungs, including at the well-known Warunk Upnormal, and there have even been Indomie donuts, all reinforcing Indomie’s role as an iconic and ever-relevant Indonesian brand.