IQ: Murphy Marketing Research/Trendtown

When you ask Alison Murphy of Murphy Marketing Research/Trendtown about innovation, she replies that it often involves the most simple and eloquent solutions.

“It’s born from an understanding of the target audience’s current behavior and from identifying their unmet needs,” she says.

Murphy’s 16-year-old Thiensville-based firm created its innovative Sparks Ideas on Fire creative process to generate “really hot ideas and concepts companies can utilize to develop and introduce innovative, new products,” she says.

Sparks features a panel of over 400 creative consumers assembled to meet the needs of clients seeking an exceptional level of brainstorming and idea generation. The panelists are hand-selected and include women, men, teens and business professionals.

“We launched Sparks when we recognized that clients need to move beyond traditional focus groups to gain deeper consumer insights for developing a new product or service,” Murphy says.

The primary goal of the brainstorming process is to use creative exercises to help the consumers express their unmet needs.

“I believe any problem, whether it’s a new product or peace in Afghanistan, can be solved through creativity and listening,” Murphy says.

In addition to brainstorming and concept development, Murphy Marketing Research clients typically use the Sparks process for concept optimization, along with new product development, enhancements, positioning and naming.

Packaging development and design are also possible outcomes.

“Clients such as Revlon, Turtle Wax and Regal Ware come to Milwaukee from all over the country to spend a day or two with our panel. During a session, a number of high-level brainstorming exercises are employed to generate new ideas. The quality and quantity of ideas generated directly relate to the uniqueness of the exercises, and we emphasize divergent thinking,” Murphy says.

“Each year, we train panelists and introduce new ideation techniques. We also use the training to refine new brainstorming processes,” she says.

The impact on her firm and the marketplace has been substantial.

“Clients look to us to bring fresh, new thinking to their new-product processes. Our Sparks program enables clients to fill their new-product pipelines with literally hundreds of ideas for future development. It’s fun to see the products we’ve helped create on the store shelves,” Murphy said.

Address: 161 N. Green Bay Rd., Thiensville

Web Site:

Industry: Market research consulting

Innovations:  A proprietary process for generating new product ideas for companies.

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