Manufacturers Want Courageous Innovation To Win
Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Peter, a Senior Marketing Executive in New York, New York who has this question about how organizations can become better innovators to combat competitive threats.
“I am a long time reader of Branding Strategy Insider and have found your articles on brand innovation particularly helpful. I’m hoping you can assist with our specific challenge. We are facing a potent combination of competitive threats to one of our consumer packaged goods brands in the food and beverage category. A smaller and more nimble competitor took us by surprise, and has made great gains with a new and clearly desirable food innovation. We are not as prepared as we once were to out-innovate our rivals. What can you recommend to help us improve our new product development process? In the context of innovation what should we be considering now?”
Thanks for your question Peter, it’s timely for many I’m sure. For the benefit of all readers, let’s start with a look at the state of innovation. Ironically, the biggest problem in innovation today isn’t that it’s too hard to make a new product. It’s that it’s too easy to commercialize a new product. Given the democratization of design tools, widely available contract manufacturing, and direct to consumer distribution, anybody who is serious can get a product to market.
We’re no longer playing against a limited field. The next big idea can come from anywhere. And it can come at any time.
With today’s tools, the speed at which innovation now reaches the shelf is crippling many incumbent brands who have legacy processes for new product development. Many find that by the time they react to one competitive threat, two more have appeared.
In this world of increasing product proliferation, the number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is growing about twice as fast as the Gross Domestic Product. This means even incumbent brands can expect that the amount of revenue every new SKU makes is declining by about 4% per year. Just doing what we’ve always done is going to increasingly put us behind.
So, What Can Brands Do To Compete?
No matter how big they are, if brands want to stay relevant they must move faster. They must be more responsive to adapting conditions and be more courageous.
Brands need to be brave to win. And they need the tools to help them do it.
The Blake Project designed a one-day workshop to meet this challenge and I believe will work for you Peter. We open the workshop by introducing a framework that challenges the conventional thinking in innovation to allow you to create better ideas – not just more ideas, and evolve ideas faster – not just filter them; allowing you to deliver smart ideas faster so you can be brave enough to win.
This approach can work within your existing New Product Development process. It’s based on three fundamental beliefs:
- that “unmet” needs are not enough
- that there is no white space in consumer’s wallets (so value has to be obvious and earned)
- winning brands know how to use their advantages to compete creatively
In this workshop we’ll demonstrate how to look at four dimensions of innovation simultaneously that are normally looked at sequentially:
- Sources of demand
- Sources of value
- Sources of volume
- Sources of advantage
Using this process, we’ve seen clients become much faster at creating ideas that resonate with the customers and, equally importantly, a business model that thrives.
- We’ll start with an assessment of current innovation approaches to see what’s working.
- We’ll work through several scenarios to envision alternate futures for the company, including developing scenarios for how we would compete against ourselves.
- Next we’ll introduce the overall framework through the lens of a food & beverage case studies
- After lunch, we’ll go through each section of the framework to develop a deeper understanding of how each element works independently, complete with small group exercises.
- Once we’re comfortable with the overall framework and the individual elements, we’ll separate into teams to take on a current innovation challenge.
- We’ll come back together to present our results and vote for the most promising ideas.
- Finally, we’ll develop a plan to implement the new framework to accelerate (not replace) the existing NPD process as well as help your people be more agile, competitive and innovative.
I hope you find this helpful Peter.