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The original vision for NetBase was this: Create a tool that makes it possible to harvest insights from the web about people’s unmet needs, then match those needs with new technologies that could be productized to meet them. For me, that’s the definition of an innovation.

I’m proud to say that on April 30, we will have delivered on that vision. That’s when we release ConsumerBase, which helps marketers understand consumers and their needs. We’ve already released illumin8 with our partner Elsevier, which helps researchers find answers to technical questions. Now, by combining the capabilities of ConsumerBase and illumin8, companies have the tools to marry consumer and technical insights.

So how does that lead to innovation? By helping R&D and Marketing work together to marry needs with technologies and develop innovative solutions. R&D can use ConsumerBase—the marketer’s tool—to quickly find answers to key questions about consumer attitudes. They don’t have to wait for Marketing to conduct focus groups or do an ethnographic study. If they find there’s an unmet need for a product they could develop, they can proceed with confidence, knowing they’re developing a product that will produce revenue for the company.

Likewise, Marketing can use Illumin8—the technologist’s tool—to do preliminary research and determine if there’s a technology that can be used to satisfy an identified need. (True, technologists are more likely to do market research than marketers are to do technical research, but it’s just as feasible.)

Here’s a condensed example of how this process could work.

  • Using ConsumerBase, a company does a social media analysis on Listerine. It reveals that many consumers make comments such as, “Listerine is too strong, it stings, it’s too harsh.” That insight into consumer sentiment suggests that there may be a market for a new flavor of Listerine that preserves the strength but is less harsh—Listerine with Soothing Power.
  • Another consumer made this comment: “It’s pretty cool [doesn’t burn], and normally one can find peroxide for less than a dollar a bottle, whereas Listerine is quite expensive and burns while peroxide does not.” This comment mentions a technology—peroxide—that can meet an identified consumer desire.
  • At this point, a researcher could turn to illumin8, which is designed to do searches in scientific and technical sources, and search for a peroxide-based mouthwash. Maybe a lab somewhere has already developed one; maybe it’s just for medical use. The researcher may find a ready-made solution, or at least greatly reduce the time a company spends investigating the status of peroxide-based mouthwash products.

Above: Page from presentation on social media analysis of Listerine using ConsumerBase.

What’s the take-away message? Companies that take advantage of the power of ConsumerBase and illumin8 to marry technical and consumer insights can increase the synergy between their R&D and Marketing functions and develop new products with solid sales potential much faster.

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