Want consumers and new ideas? Drop the jargon!

Don't use jargon!

When you traffic in cutting-edge ideas and consumer insights, like we do at MindSumo, finding the right way to say what you mean can be difficult. That’s especially true when you work on everything from long-duration space flight and blockchain applications to the future of packaging and autonomous vehicles. After all, how do you describe what doesn’t exist yet in a way that makes sense to everyone? As a result, we encounter a lot of jargon while helping companies launch successful MindSumo challenges.

What is jargon?

Jargon is a noun for any special or technical word or phrase used by a group of people who is difficult for anyone outside that group to understand. It entered English usage in the middle ages as a synonym for gibberish, and was derived from an Old French word for the chattering of birds. To jargonize this explanation, one might say it is an autological expression, meaning a word that describes itself. Law and medicine are infamous for their jargon, but every business, industry, field, and hobby develops it.

Companies that run challenges on MindSumo want to reach Millennials and Centennials because they bring a new perspective to problems and, as consumers, have needs and desires that differ from those of earlier generations. However, many companies want to talk to MindSumo solvers as if they’ve spent 20 years as professionals on R&D, IT, or material science teams in the industry, not as outsiders unfamiliar with the lingo. That is not the right approach to developing ideas with the crowd. For solvers to make a breakthrough, they need to understand the problem first.

Consumers hate what they don’t understand

And jargon doesn’t only make it difficult to solve complex problems in the sciences and engineering. It hurts the bottom line for consumer-facing companies too. Millennial and Centennial consumers strongly dislike jargon. When companies in banking, finance, and insurance use MindSumo to find out how to better serve young consumers, one of the most common themes in solver responses is that the unfamiliar terms used in those industries leave Millennials and Centennials intimidated and confused. Young consumers report that they are less likely to seek out financial planners or ask their bank about additional services because they don’t want to seem uninformed. According to MindSumo solvers, these industries do too little to explain their jargon, thus making it seem like their services are only for people in the know.

This trend isn’t limited to banking and finance either. Companies that sell products and services young consumer have an existing relationship with, that they’ve known since childhood, routinely ask questions in a way that seems unnecessarily complicated. While you may talk about optimizing the secondary packaging experience for QSR mini-meals at the next corporate meeting, young customers would prefer that you rephrase that to be about the bag their snack from the fast food restaurant came in.

Jargon is a bad habit that almost all industries are guilty of thoughtlessly doing. As a result, consumers feel alienated, brand loyalty suffers, and innovation slows. If a scientist can explain quantum computing to a child in only a few minutes, then every company should be able to clearly explain what it wants to do and why it matters to Millennials and Centennials.

At MindSumo, we work with all our clients before their challenges launch to make sure they asks the important questions in a way our community of solvers will understand. If you want help ridding your work of jargon so you can better reach key consumers for breakthrough ideas and insights, head to!

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