Innovate + Innovate. I’ve long said that the lifeblood for brand growth is new product development. It’s something that’s easy to say yet hard to do. Why? Because we too often get tied up in driving today’s business. Which is, of course, important and time consuming. But doing so at the expense of innovating will cost you.
So instead of a one-two punch, let’s take a look at three steps to keep innovation at the forefront:
1. Follow the trends – Maybe your agency is doing this for you, or maybe it’s driven by an internal team. If you’re like most, it’s what you’re going to get to next but never really do. That is, until it’s too late. If you aren’t up on trends a key competitor or new category entrant could swoop in right in front of you with a new product.
2. Have a plan – I won’t spend a lot of time on this, but for almost anything you do you should have a plan. Keep it flexible so you can adjust as you learn. I know it sounds basic, but people skip it enough that it’s worth mentioning. Planning is easy to put on the back-burner. Don’t though, because your brand’s future is a stake.
3. Innovate: Recently I wrote about fermentation as an innovation in the CPG foods space. This taps into the consumer’s desire for better health. An example is Farmhouse Culture. To stay relevant and to encourage brand growth, they are producing products designed to improve gut health.
“beans are the new kale”
A more recent example was featured in the WSJ: “The Superfood You Always Knew.” You know the article you’re reading is onto something when in just a few paragraphs you come across “everything about a bean is fashionable”, “beans are the new kale” and “chickpeas were the gateway.”
“chickpeas were the gateway”
In all seriousness though, Superfoods are on trend. New product growth in the category referred to as “pulses” (beans, legumes, lentils and peas) is up 11%, equaling 2,500 new products. That’s four times more than kale and 8.5 times more than ancient grains like couscous and quinoa (the darlings of a few years ago).
Beyond the growth numbers and even Superfood status, notable investors are taking note. Zico Water Founder, Mark Rampolla, has placed a stake in snack maker Beanfields – a company that had $6 million in sales in 2016 and is projected to hit $50 million by 2020. It’s even caught the eye of Frito Lay who has been testing a line of chips called Off The Eaten Path.
The point here isn’t to tell you to jump into Superfoods. After all, nutriceuticals have been around as an area of growth for well more than a decade, but rather to pay attention to the trends.
For our clients, CCF has been noticing trends like customization (in financial services and transportation), eating for wellness (consumer packaged foods), coaching (health and wellness) and the strength of connecting with the values of your audience (all brands).
As you move forward, ask yourself what trends are impacting your category or an adjacent category. Then ideate on how you can leverage these trends. Bring in a moderator if you are having trouble keeping internal audiences looking forward or if you find yourself talking too much inside baseball. And if you need help, call us. I personally have moderated numerous client sessions on innovation and would be happy to help.