October 10, 2018

Costovation – Giving Your Customers Exactly What They Want and Nothing More

On this episode of The Innovation Engine podcast, we delve into “cost-ovation,” or innovation that gives your customers exactly what they want – and nothing more. We’ll look at how companies like Planet Fitness have become wildly successful by challenging long-held assumptions about what their customers actually want and need, the three core traits shared by companies that excel at costovation, and why setting a vision with strategic objectives is such a key component for any innovation effort.

Stephen Wunker, the Managing Director and US Market Head of New Markets Advisors, joins us to share insights from his latest book. Stephen combines world-class strategy consulting and entrepreneurial skills, and he’s the author of the newly-released Costovation: Innovation that Gives your Customers Exactly What They Want and Nothing More. He’s also the author of Capturing New Markets: How Smart Companies Create Opportunities Others Don’t, which was named one of the five Best Business Books of 2011, and co-author of Jobs to be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation, which was one of four finalists for Best General Business Book of 2016.


Tune in to the full episode below.


The three core traits that are shared by companies who excel at costovation:

  • You need to start by breaking free of how you’ve always thought about the business. “There needs to be some sort of breakthrough perspective. Very frequently, that is based on a really deep and rigorous understanding of what customers are actually trying to get done … but it can also be internal customers. It doesn’t always have to be on the outside. Frequently, that is turbocharged by looking at examples of how companies in analogous situations, sometimes from very different industries, have tackled things in a way that makes you suspend those core assumptions.”
  • “You then need to focus in on particular levers that seem to have a particular promise in your situation.” So this might be something relating to your distribution or serving a particularly expensive set of customers.” What you’re really looking for are opportunities to continue to delight the customers, sometimes even delight a customer even more than you have previously, but that make radical step changes in your cost.”
  • “Finally, you need to look across the business at ways that you can integrate not just some potential redefinition of product, but the customer experience, the way you go to market, and your ecosystem partners – a number of different levers that allow you to have a multidimensional playing field.”

Stephen shares thoughts on the importance of goal setting in ensuring innovation efforts don’t go astray or become never-ending money pits in the video snippet below.

A few questions you can use to challenge your assumptions and get a different perspective:

  • Why would certain people hate this?
  • When you subtract elements from your proposition, what does it leave you with?
  • At what point do you have nothing left that’s really viable?


About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.