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The Importance of Strategic Thinking in Brand Innovation

Following Carole Lee’s successful talk at the Campden Food & Innovation Network Conference on 24th June, here is a summary of her presentation which takes a look at the three key tools that LBI uses for new product development.

Using tools such as these which take a more structured and strategic approach to NPD can help to create more focused and successful innovations and increase the chances of success.

The Innovation Spectrum helps you to ensure your company is innovating in all the right places and not neglecting any obvious opportunities. It plots the level of risk against the potential for increasing the number of customers or customer occasions for your brand. Typically the more risk you are prepared to take, the greater the potential for increasing the number of customers and the more possibility there is for growth. Innovation therefore can be both low risk and close in to the current category or higher risk and further out. The Spectrum moves from ‘Continuous Innovation’ where the product stays the same, to product ‘Restages’ and ‘Line Extensions’ to pure ‘NPD’ in the home category and on to ‘Blue Sky NPD’ where a company enters a category which is new to it and finally ‘Inventions’ where the company develops something which is new to the world. The tool allows a company to plot all its innovation projects and make sure it has a good spread along the spectrum and is not neglecting any area.

Innovation spectrum

Innovation Spectrum

The second tool, the ‘Three Strategic Viewpoints’, ensures you build the best possible strategy for the product or service you wish to bring to the market and helps you to understand why your strategy is working and therefore why you are likely to succeed. The ‘Three Viewpoints’ are firstly that of the Target to make sure the innovation offers something relevant and motivating to them. The second viewpoint is that of the Competition to ensure the innovation is different to what is already available, whether through functional or emotional differentiation. The third viewpoint is that of the Brand or Company itself, to look at the associations and core competencies which the organisation has to build on and which will ensure that it really can deliver its promises in a credible way. A strategy hits the sweet spot when it successfully satisfies all three of these viewpoints..

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3 strategic viewpoints

Three Strategic Viewpoints

Behaviour objectives

The final tool is the ‘Behaviour Objectives Checklist’. This is a reminder to assess and, wherever possible, measure the usage behaviours which result from the proposed innovation. Using this checklist encourages us to think about how the innovation is going to work in the real world and translate into more sales. The primary objective may be to simply defend against a competitor which may lead to growth, but it may also succeed if it simply protects sales and/or share. The second and third behaviour objectives are the two main ways of growing share – these are to increase the frequency of use (by finding new occasions or new ways of using the product) or to increase the number of people using the brand. Repositioning, finding niche targets, targeting other peoples’ dissatisfied customers and tapping into new trends are all examples of ways of bringing new people into using a brand.

These tools can give everyone in the organisation, regardless of department, an insight into approaching innovation strategically in order to be more effective in the marketplace.

For more information or help with a NPD project, please contact London Brand Innovations.