For decades, consumer goods companies have line extended in order to maintain continued growth. New sub-categories have been created, and then saturated. But this has led to many more choices than a consumer could possibly want. In turn, this has created a “paralysis of choice,” according to Luke Atkinson, deputy head of planning at Leo Burnett Sydney, so retailers are starting to consolidate and replace aisles of brands with their branded products.
“There is no genuine unmet need left in these categories,” he wrote. “This is further compounded by digital, which has created lots of new, interesting and often free ways to spend time and energy. Brands, as means of self-expression, have lost their power. And it costs more money to sustainably launch NPD into the market. No wonder incrementalism is a dying art.”
Atkinson says it’s time to innovate innovation, and here’s how:
Think Big. Classic incrementalism starts with detailed quantitative understanding of consumer needs, looking for empty percentage that a new product could target. Ask questions like, ‘What is my brand’s human purpose, making my target’s life better?’ Around this bigger purpose, ‘What unmet consumer needs exist that your brand, through a combination of products could fulfill?’
Think Utility. Digital technology offers new innovation opportunities that when combined with your product, offers consumers utilities that have value. How can the purpose of your brand and your product set, when combined with any consumer-friendly technology offer a new utility to people?
Think Functional Integration. To escape incrementalism, you must deepen your relationship with your consumer, not expand it. This is what integration is about – integrating your products together around your meaningful purpose.
Think Product and Promotion as One. Instead of developing a product and then worrying about how to promote it later, consider bringing the two together in one fresh combination. Consider bringing your product, advertising and digital agencies to innovate together.