Product Innovation

Use Social data to predict the needs and wants of your consumers – before they even know themselves.

Never back the wrong trend again

In our experience, most companies don’t struggle to generate fresh insight or new ideas, but how they determine which ideas to prioritise and develop.

Machine learning applied to Social data not only offers brands an unprecedented opportunity to detect emerging trends earlier, but also put them into context versus the other trending topics in their category.

Working with Black Swan means a category trend or growth driver is never undiscovered or unknown; if it’s being talked about online it will appear and be ranked by its future potential. This gives our clients a simple prioritisation metric for their business to make data-driven innovation decisions and innovate at speed.


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The Questions We Answer

  • Early Warning Trend Detection

    What trends are emerging that will affect existing product lines?

    Which ingredient trends do we need to react to?

    How is sentiment to a specific ingredient or topic changing?

  • Short-term Innovation

    Which line extensions and flavour additions should I develop?

    Which new benefit can we claim that will increase our product’s appeal?

    Why are certain products trending and how can I leverage?

  • Breakthrough Innovation

    How do we find the next ‘category killer’ innovation before competitors?

    What are the key white spaces and growth opportunities in my category?

    Which emerging benefits from adjacent categories will become relevant?

Our Method

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    Future Category Growth Drivers

    We audit the category from the consumers’ perspective, establishing the most important macro themes that will drive future growth.

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    Contextualising Trends

    We provide comprehensive analysis on all the priority benefits, products and ingredients that drive each macro theme.

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    Connecting Trends

    We understand how and why consumers talk about and connect trends in their own language.

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    Adjacency Exploration

    We provide stimulus and input from trends in complementary categories to validate and cross-pollinate ideas.

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    Turning Insights into Products

    We build innovation springboards from which multiple new product ideas are created.

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Case Study

First Mover
Advantage in Tea


Their Challenge

With sales of traditional variants stagnant, Lipton turned to Black Swan and Social data to inform new product innovation and stimulate growth in the Ice Tea category.


Our Approach

  • Matcha was identified as a priority ingredient within our trend prediction ranking methodology, meaning we forecast it to grow rapidly in social conversation.

  • We identified the Matcha conversation was evolving from being about an exotic and mysterious ingredient from the Orient, to an ingredient with perceived mainstream health and wellness benefits.


The Impact

  • Unilever used this insight to gain a first mover advantage by fast-tracking the launch of a ready-to-drink Matcha Green Tea variant which went on to become the leading Iced Tea variant on the market.

  • 12 months later our prediction accuracy was proven – Matcha products had added £11m in incremental category value and social conversations had increased 118% in volume.

“Black Swan enabled our brands to identify motivations and behaviours that consumers follow and look towards. In particular this helped us to prioritise, refine and find outstanding proposition options in the all-important health and wellness space.”

Clare Hemphill

Global Insights Director, Unilever