Thought Leadership

Ideation: Bringing Home the Bacon

April 1, 2019
Bacon Mouthwash

Bacon? Bacon, bacon, BACON!

Wait! What do you mean you were only joking? I can’t actually buy bacon-flavored mouthwash? What a cruel April Fool’s Day joke. In a stunt that has gone viral on social media for a couple of years now, Procter & Gamble seems to be unveiling bacon as the latest in trendy, savory flavors for mouth refreshment.

Sticky Ideas

How did this new product hoax go viral while so many other new product launches fail to succeed? In the Heath brothers’ book “Made To Stick,” they lay out a communication framework for lasting ideas:

Success =

  1. Unexpected: Get people to pay attention. Bacon-flavored mouthwash vastly differs from the typical mint flavors that it inhabits a space all its own.
  2. Concrete: Understand and remember it. I saw a picture of the packaging and could visualize the product sitting on the store shelf and in my medicine cabinet at home.
  3. Credible: Agree and believe. The product had its own website and it’s on Facebook (so it MUST be true!). Also, the longer it perpetuated after April Fool’s Day, the more believable it became.
  4. Emotional: There are some who care deeply about bacon and there are those, like me, who just salivate Pavlovian at its mention. Bacon elicits an emotional response.
  5. Story: The call to action to soon purchase at a store near you prepped us to buy and participate.

Years ago—sadly—bacon was just bacon. Now, even though this mouthwash is an April Fool’s Day joke, bacon is a flavor in all sorts of new products. We, the bacon-lovers of Escalent, heartily embrace the inclusion of bacon in new products. Those of us who fancy ourselves adept in the kitchen have held employee bake-offs. Bacon brownies, anyone? Savory, salty and sweet simultaneously? Yes, please!

Ideation: Now You’re Cooking

Bacon-flavored products that are designed thoughtfully to be “sticky” ideas (and actually taste good) endure while others remain only a joke. Ideation research, an area that plays very heavily in flavor and other trend identification, is a strong suit of our qualitative group.

Quality ideation research underpins many of today’s stickiest ideas. The goal in ideation work is to effectively lead a cross-functional set of your internal brand stakeholders and sets of creative external participants through a series of divergent and then convergent thinking exercises.

  • Divergent exercises first seek to generate as many ideas as possible in a safe space where anything is fair game; there are no limits on imagination. This is clearly where bacon-flavored mouthwash emerged.
  • Convergent exercises then seek to cull and prioritize those ideas into a more manageable road map for development. This is clearly where bacon-flavored mouthwash was made into the joke it is today.

Ideation is serious work, but we make sure it is also a lot of fun so ideas can flow readily and the sticky ones can be identified.

Financial Services Ideation

The need for strong ideation work spans all industries. Take the case of an established health savings account (HSA) company that came to us wanting to maintain its leadership role by offering cutting-edge products with best-in-class features. Ideation was especially challenging given the structure of the HSA market with direct-to-consumer as well as B2B2C markets each figuring heavily. We are fortunate to have qualitative moderators with robust financial services expertise to lead such ideation.

Through a series of ideation sessions with executives, employees, and then consumers, a massive idea bank of hundreds of product and service ideas was generated to fill the development pipeline—some viable shorter-term, some viable longer-term, and others culled entirely. The most promising ones moved into quantitative testing.

The financial services industry has experienced significant feature “creep” in the past few years, with an array of new features that consumers aren’t aware of, don’t value and/or don’t use. We didn’t want that to be the case with any of these new HSA features. Applying a proprietary quantitative model, we determined the viability and ROI of each new product or feature to estimate take rates. Some of the pipeline ideas would be small evolutions of varying ROIs; others real industry revolutions. All of these distinctions were made clear before the company started implementing.

Bringing Home the Bacon

While bacon-flavored mouthwash may remain a joke, for now it’s proof that well-thought-out ideas can remain sticky for years. Ask us how Escalent can help you bring home the next bacon and other “sticky” ideas for your brand. For more information, contact Chris Barnes or Heather Mitchell.

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Heather Mitchell
Heather Mitchell
Vice President, Financial Services Qualitative

Heather is a leader in the Qualitative space with over 18 years of research experience and a true passion for advancing methods and moderating techniques toward an end goal of well-informed business decisions. From eye-tracking analysis to System 1 techniques, Heather takes projects to the next level. She specializes in our financial services sector, conducting informed sessions with the full gamut of investment experts to entry-level banking customers, of business decision-makers on 401k or health insurance plans to end participants. She is an in-demand problem solver for many repeat clients – a strategic partner who aligns the right approach and techniques to quickly investigate the underlying causes of issues and deliver actionable insights. Heather has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce with concentrations in Marketing and Management from the University of Virginia, and a Masters of Research from the University of Connecticut. She is a RIVA trained and Unilever accredited moderator.