Decoding Disruption: Consumers Expect Customization and Risk

Decoding Disruption: Consumers Expect Customization and Risk

A disruption isn’t an improvement or advancement, but a radically different approach to a consumer need.

– Female, 22-35

We can all think of at least a few business buzzwords we use without even thinking, whether we’re rattling them off during meetings or chatting with a colleague over lunch. Sometimes we use them and hear them so much they become almost meaningless – just filler.

The word on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days is “disruption.” Which made us wonder – what exactly does “disruption” mean to consumers? And to us as market researchers? After all, it’s something we hear, but not something we always take the time to define.

At 20|20 we love making research less complicated, so we set out to do more than just define disruption – we want to demystify it. The following is just a sneak peek of the findings from our new research series Decoding Disruption, which we’ll be releasing in phases over the next several months. But right out of the gate, the story is compelling – with consumers placing value on customized products and brands that innovate and take risks to identify their needs.

To kick things off, we asked 500 consumers from our nationwide panel to weigh in on the topic of disruption. Our survey findings show that while consumers may not know the textbook definition of disruption, they know it when they see it, and it’s beginning to impact how they think about brands.

Disruptive brands are here to stay

Nearly 7 in 10 consumers (67%) do not believe disruptive brands “are just fads.” This sentiment is most prevalent among high income consumers (76%), those who shop online at least once a week (73%), and Millennials (73%). 

Not only do the majority of consumers find disruptive companies to be here to stay, but the majority of consumers overall – including 70% of millennials – believe disruptive brands care more about creating products and services for “people like me.” Agreement with this statement is consistent across lines of gender and income levels, making the case for brands to prioritize identifying and aligning with consumer needs.

Although most consumers believe disruptive companies are here to stay, they maintain that disruptive brands are not the majority of brands out there (71%). When it comes to their preference, consumers are split down the middle when it comes to whether they prefer buying from disruptive brands or traditional brands. Overall, 44% prefer disruptive brands to traditional brands, 43% do not prefer disruptive brands to traditional brands, and 13% are unsure. These findings suggest that consumers want a mix of both disruptive and traditional brands to fill their unique set of needs.

Innovation and risk are key “ingredients” for disruption

Next, we asked respondents to identify the main “ingredients” of a disruptive company. According to consumers, the main characteristics necessary for brands to be disruptive are technology (74%), innovation (71%), and risk taken by company (70%).  Based on the follow-up questions, the consumers in our survey seem to inherently understand that these elements are critical to a brand’s ability to think outside the box and build more customized solutions – particularly those products and services that meet the needs the consumer may not even know they have.

Already, our findings reveal that consumers value and have distinct expectations for both their disruptive and traditional brands. Disentangling these expectations along with brand preferences will be the next focus of 20|20’s findings about disruption. If disruption is here to stay and consumers have unique expectations for disruptive companies, what does it mean for your own brand or the brands you work with? Stayed tuned as we tackle this question and others in our research series, Decoding Disruption.