Monday, January 25, 2010

The 2-minute Innovation Check Step

Will your innovation stand up to this 2-minute test?

In the last couple of years I’ve been repeatedly reminded of an essential, yet all too often overlooked, step in the innovation approach. This is my plea for you to blend commercialism with your creativity!

As a brand communication and innovation consultant working globally in the Food & Beverage sector I am privileged to see many innovation approaches. Naturally, there are a huge number of routes to new ideas and many contributing success factors.

But when I’m asked to consult on failed launches, to ‘pick up the pieces’ of a failed new product, I find there is usually 1 question I can ask to get to the root of the problem – and asking that 1 question is the missing step in too many innovation processes:

It’s the question, “Why?” ... “Why launch this?”

If the reason is "To make money." Stop. It’s not enough. There must be a ‘Consumer WHY’. The reason to buy. When I see product failures it’s often because there was no consumer need or want. Too often we are caught up / mesmorised / blinded by the newness / excitement / technology / thrill of the innovation and we forget that we must have a Buyer for our creativity.

So think of your current innovation project (you know, the one that's taking all your time right now) or your next launch (the one that your career is riding on) and take this 2 minute test - "the Innovation Check Step":

Who really wants it?
Is it genuinely distinct from what's already available? (in the eyes of your consumer?)
Is it different enough for your prospect to bother to switch from her current solution?
Will enough people actually pay for it? (and that means exchanging their hard-earned cash - and hopefully more than once!)

If you don't have good answers, I suggest you think very hard before going to market. Creativity alone is not enough. Great innovation is commercial too.

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